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Eating this humble food may prevent breast cancer

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By David Liu, PHD

A new study suggests that eating garlic often may help prevent breast cancer which is diagnosed in about 200,000 women in the United States each year and kills about 50,000 women annually in the country.

The study published online on April 16, 2012 on the website of Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that diallyl trisulfide, a major ingredient in garlic can reduce the risk of initiation of breast cancer development induced by a carcinogen called benzo(a)pyrene (BaP).

BaP as a cancer causing agent was used in the study to demonstrate the anticarcinogenic effect of diallyl trisulfide.   Garlic may also be effective in protecting against cancer induced by other carcinogens.

Yasmeen M. Nkrumah-Eliea of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee Florida and colleagues reported that diallyl trisulfide had been known to be toxic to cancer cells. The researchers wanted to examine its effect in the initiation phase of carcinogenesis.

In the study, breast cells were either pre-treated with diallyl trisulfide and then treated with BaP , or co-treated with both the cancer-causing agent and the garlic ingredient in a dose of 6 or 60 μM for up to 24 hours.

The researchers found the following

"The DATS (diallyl trisulfide) 6 and 60 μM CoTx (co-treatment) inhibited BaP-induced cell proliferation by an average of 71.1% and 120.8%, respectively, at 6 h. The 60 μM DATS pretreatment decreased BaP-induced G2/M cell cycle transition by 127%, and reduced the increase in cells in the S-phase by 42%; whereas 60 μM DATS CoTx induced a 177% increase in cells in G1. DATS effectively inhibited (P < 0.001) BaP-induced peroxide formation by at least 54%, which may have prevented the formation of BaP-induced DNA strand breaks."

The researchers said diallyl trisulfide inhibit BaP-induced carcinogenesis by inhibiting cell proliferation, regulation of cell cycle, attenuation of ROS formation, and inhibition of DNA damage.  And the results suggest that eating garlic may help prevent breast cancer.

Benzo[a]pyrene, a cancer causing agent, is found in coal tar, in automobile exhaust fumes, in smokes and in charbroiled food. Bap is found in cooked meat products, fried chicken and overcooked charcoal barbecued beef.

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