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Garlic and onions vs. stomach cancer.


You might not want to eat them before going out on a date, but doctors say that garlic and onions might be the best things for stomach cancer short of surgery, radiation therapy, and anti-cancer drugs. A recent study of nearly 1700 Chinese in a northern coastal province known for its high stomach cancer rate suggests that these odorous vegetables can significantly reduce stomach cancer risks when eaten on a regular basis.

The study, conducted by a team of nine American and Chinese scientists in the Shandong province, found that those who ate the most vegetables in the onion and garlic family--including garlic stalks, scallions, and chives--were less likely to develop the cancer than those who did not. Persons eating the most vegetables experienced only 40 percent of the risk of those with the lowest intake. Also, prior to the study, the 564 stomach cancer patients interviewed had consumed a significantly lesser amount of the vegetables than the 1131 persons interviewed who did not have stomach cancer. The researchers also pointed to bad dietary and smoking habits by the stomach cancer patients prior to treatment--including intake of salty foods, moldy grain, and sour pancakes, a fermented food staple eaten in shandong's Linqu County--as well as previous gastritis and gastric ulcer problems as factors in the development of the cancer in Shandong.

Garlic and onions have been considered folk medicine staples in China since the millennium before Christ's birth. Studies have been done on the role of garlic and onions in the inhibition of tumor growth since the 1950s, including a study in the United States on a Georgia county famous for its vidalia onions with one-third the national and one-half the state stomach cancer mortality rates. The researchers admit their findings are not conclusive; however, they theorize that certain chemical elements within garlic and onions protect against cancer cells by destroying bacteria that brings about cancer growth. Previous studies have also shown that consumption of garlic and onions can reduce the risk of heart disease. (Journal of the National Cancer institute, January 18, 1989; 81:162-164.)
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Title Annotation:research in China
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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