Garlic belongs to the onion species and is widely used for seasoning worldwide. It was used for the treatment of cancer way before modern medicine came into existence. In ancient times, garlic was used to treat cancers of the uterus. Garlic and cancer prevention is strongly related.
What is Garlic?
Garlic is a vegetable with scientific name Allium sativum. It belongs to the allium class of plants that also include onions, scallions, chives, and leeks. It consists of sulfur compounds that are the major precursor of its bioactive compounds (substances in food to bring changes in health status), made by crushing, chopping or smashing it.
Effects of garlic on certain cancers:
It is now believed that one of the most promising effects of garlic is seen in relation to certain cancers, and also it improvises the effect of many chemotherapeutic drugs. According to various studies, garlic and cancer prevention shows importance as increased garlic intake leads to low risk of following cancers:
Effects of garlic on chemotherapeutic drugs:
- Many compounds obtained from garlic extracts seem to have cancer protective roles and seem to enhance the effect of chemotherapeutic agents. A study conducted in 2001 in England claimed that Ajoene (a garlic-derived natural compound) was found to cause significantly cell death of cancer cells in the blast crisis in leukemia (of chronic myelogenous type) patients.
- More studies conducted in India in 1990 and 2009 also stated that it could reduce the toxicity of Cyclophosphamide, a widely used chemotherapeutic agent, without interfering with its cancer curing abilities. The first study (conducted in mice models) concluded that if an intraperitoneal dose of garlic was given simultaneously with Cyclophosphamide, it reduced the toxicity of the chemotherapeutic drug and also increased the lifespan by more than 70%.
- Another study also stated that git may reduce the side effects of N-Methyl-N-Nitrosourea induced transitional cell (bladder) carcinoma in rats. Favorable results were shown when higher doses were given for longer periods of time.
- Garlic is also documented to be effective in reducing the chromosome damaging effects of Mitomycin C, another chemotherapeutic drug. A study conducted in India stated that it can reduce the clastogenic (chromosome damaging) effects of 3 substances significantly, which are Mitomycin C, Cyclophosphamide, and sodium arsenate.
- Garlic extracts also influence Adriamycin, another chemotherapeutic drug used to treat breast, bladder, head and neck cancers. Adriamycin is known for cardiotoxic side effects (detrimental effects on the heart muscles). Garlic has been proven to be beneficial in reducing the cardiotoxic effects of Adriamycin(which included heart failure).
- Garlic has also been proven in various studies to reduce the gastric and intestinal side effects caused by Methotrexate that includes gastric ulceration and diarrhea, etc.
- 7. 5 Fluorouracil is another chemotherapeutic drug that is used very commonly in the colon, rectum and head and neck cancers. Some side effects also accompany this drug, and garlic extracts have been proven to ameliorate various 5 Fluorouracil induced damages to the small intestine.
- Cisplatin is another chemotherapeutic agent that is used in a variety of cancer.However, it is often associated with limited compliance nephrotoxicity i.e. its ability to damage the human kidney. A study conducted in Mexico in 2008 evaluated the effect of garlic on this particular side effect of Cisplatin.
- Another study conducted in Poland, published in 2011, concluded that some compounds found in garlic help protect the normal (non-cancerous) liver cells that may get damaged during cancer chemotherapy. These particular benefits were obtained from the antioxidant properties (the ability of a substance to reduce the detrimental effects of side products of various ongoing chemical reactions) of garlic.
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