A clove a day keeps cancer at bay

By Andy Coghlan EATING as little as half a clove of raw garlic per day in a salad might protect you against bowel cancer. Better known for helping you avoid heart disease, garlic also protects against bowel cancer. Rex and Christine Munday, a husband-and-wife team at the New Zealand government’s Ruakura Agricultural Research Centre in Hamilton, wanted to find out how much garlic you needed to benefit. They fed rats for five days at a time with varying doses of diallyl disulfide, the substance in garlic reckoned to have the most potent anticancer properties. Disulfide makes the gut produce enzymes that purge it of cancer-causing substances. The Mundays found that levels of these enzymes rose by 20 to 60 per cent at doses matching modest intakes in humans. “It’s been recognised that garlic is an inducer of these enzymes, but previous studies have all been with doses at meaningless levels,” says Rex Munday. “They implied you’d need to eat your own weight in garlic to achieve beneficial effects.” In the rats, beneficial daily doses of disulfide were between 0.075 and 0.3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. That’s equivalent to about half a clove for humans—but you’d need to consume nine times as much if you cook it. The paper will appear in Nutrition and Cancer (vol 34,
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