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Can Onions and Garlic Protect Against Cancer?

by Richard A Reagan

Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer diagnosed in the United States today. This year an estimated 101,000 new cases of colon cancer and 44,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed. Because of their location, these cancers if not caught soon enough can be devastating. Over 50,000 people are expected to die this year from colorectal cancer. Thanks to new screening methods, more and more doctors are able to find colorectal polyps and remove them before they develop into cancer. But what if there were a way to prevent these polyps from forming in the first place?

Researchers in China recently sought to discover whether consumption of alliums, such as garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and spring onions could have an effect on colorectal cancer. The problem with many studies looking into diet and its effects on cancer development is that they’re largely observational and rely on self-reporting.

This recent Chinese study sought to be better constructed, although it still relied on study participants filling out questionnaires. With over 1,600 individuals involved in the survey, split evenly between those with colorectal cancer and control individuals, researchers found that those who consumed the highest levels of allium vegetables had a 79 percent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.

That adds to an increasing body of research that indicates that allium vegetables have a beneficial effect in protecting against colorectal cancer. And there’s even research that indicates beneficial effects from allium consumption in protecting against other cancers, such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, etc.

It probably shouldn’t come as any surprise, given the amount of research that has shown how beneficial garlic can be. So if you enjoy the taste of onions and garlic and you don’t mind occasionally smelling like onions or garlic, just remember that the more alliums you eat the more you can potentially protect yourself against the risk of developing cancer.

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