How Eating A Clove of Garlic a Day Might Keep the Doctor Away

Garlic cloves have been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer (photo credit:

Eating garlic cloves have been shown to reduce the risk of lung cancer (photo credit:

If asked to name foods that are good for your health, people would be likely to name things like apples, vegetables, whole grains, and leafy greens.  But garlic, which is usually delegated to bad breath and vampires, may be making its way to the top of that list, especially when it comes to keeping cancer cells at bay.  New research indicates that consuming raw garlic may have a significant impact on your likelihood of developing lung cancer, even if you smoke.

The study, which joins a host of other research into the health benefits of garlic, involved almost 6,000 participants.  It was conducted by the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China from 2003 to 2010.  Over the course of the study, the research team conducted face to face interviews with the participants to gather data about their lifestyle and eating habits. Of particular interest were their consumption of raw garlic and their smoking habits.

The results of the study were published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research and show a startling decrease in lung cancer risk among those who regularly consume raw garlic.  Across the participants, those who reported eating raw garlic as part of their regular diet at least twice a week showed a 44% decrease in their risk for developing lung cancer.

Despite the fact that lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the U.S., the majority of Americans don’t worry about contracting it because it predominantly affects long-time smokers.  On average, 90% of lung cancer diagnoses are attributable to smoking.  The study also had good news for smokers and former smokers as the risk of developing lung cancer was also 30% lower in those participants who smoked.

This finding is even more significant when you consider that lung cancer kills more Americans each year than any other form of the disease.  The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 200,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and more than 150,000 lost their lives to the disease that year.  If additional research supports the findings of the Chinese study, those numbers could drop by half simply by increasing the amount of raw garlic consumed.

This study joins other research indicating that eating garlic can help lower the risk of other diseases and health conditions.

  • One study, entitled “Cancer Chemoprevention” by Garlic and Garlic-Containing Sulfur and Selenium Compounds found that selenium, which is found in garlic, may help prevent cancer from developing.
  • Research into the effect of garlic therapy on coronary artery calcification showed that it may slow progression of this condition when combined with other supportive treatments.
  • Garlic may be a powerful tool in fighting cardiovascular disease by helping to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and decrease levels of homocysteine, one of the amino acids that can indicate coronary artery disease.
  • Consuming garlic may also reduce pre-cancerous lesions in the gastric system and slow the progression of these types of lesions in the large bowel.
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