Garlic, Chives Reduce Prostate Cancer

Allium Group of Vegetables Has Antioxidant Properties

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Nov. 5, 2002 -- Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. But a new study shows that filling your diet with garlic and scallions can help reduce the chance of this potentially deadly cancer.

Garlic and scallions, along with onions, leeks, chives, and shallots, are rich in flavonols, substances in plants that have been shown to have antitumor effects. All of these vegetables have previously been linked to lower risks of cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, and perhaps breast.

New research from China confirms that eating vegetables from the allium group (allium is Latin for garlic) can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The study found that men who ate more than 10 grams a day of these common vegetables were half as likely to get prostate cancer than those who ate less than 2.2 grams per day. Garlic and scallions had the greatest effect on the more than 700 men studied.

Published in the November issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the study looked at 20 different food groups. While other foods also have similar antioxidant properties, researchers focused exclusively on these vegetables because they are known to contain components which block toxic substances in the system, stimulate the immune system, and repair DNA.

Study leader Ann W. Hsing, PhD, found that although fruits and vegetables slightly reduced prostate cancer, the lower risk associated with allium vegetables was much more pronounced. In addition, the researchers found that the protection from these foods persisted even after other dietary factors were considered. Hsing is from the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute.

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