The time has come to load up on those breath mints, because a new study suggests eating lots of garlic and onions to help prevent cancer. Italian researchers have found that people whose diets are rich in onions, garlic and other alliums have a much lower risk of several types of cancer than those who avoid pungent herbs.
For the study, researchers used data from several Indian and Swiss cancer studies top look at the relationship between onion and garlic consumption and cancer at several body sites, which include the mouth, larynx, esophagus, colon, ovary, breast and kidneys.
Overall, consumption of onions ranged from 0-14 portions per week among cancer patients and 0-22 portions per week among those without cancer.
Garlic use was also lower among people with cancer, except for those with cancer of the breast, ovary, or prostate.
Researchers found moderate consumption of onions appeared to reduce the risk of colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers.
The protective effect was even greater among those who ate the most onions compared to those who ate the least. People who ate the most onions also had a lower risk of oral and esophageal cancers than those who ate the least.
Moderate use of garlic was also associated with a lower risk of colorectal and renal cell (a type of kidney cancer) cancers.
Again, the anticancer effect increased with the more garlic they ate. People who ate the most garlic had a lower risk of all cancers except breast and prostate cancers, which are mainly associated with hormonal and reproductive issues, write the researchers.
Researchers say onion and garlic consumption could simply be a marker for a healthier lifestyle and a diet high in a variety of potentially cancer-fighting herbs and vegetables.
However, the protective effect of onions and garlic against cancer remained significant even when they controlled for total vegetable intake.