Garlic Extract May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Colon polyps, abnormal growths that occur inside the large intestine, have
the potential to become cancer. Colon cancer is the second most common
cancer in Western societies. People with family members who have had colon
cancer, and people with inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease
and ulcerative colitis, are at high risk for colon cancer. Familial
polyposis, an inherited condition characterized by frequent formation of
colon polyps, also increases the risk.
Garlic is a bulb vegetable that has been regarded as a powerful medicinal
for centuries. It is rich in selenium, a trace mineral and antioxidant
known to have antiviral and anticancer effects, and contains a number of
other beneficial compounds. Garlic lowers cholesterol levels; has
demonstrated antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects; and has
anticancer properties. Lower rates of gastric and colon cancers have been
noted in people who eat lots of garlic.
Aged garlic extract (AGE) is a processed garlic product that has some of
garlic's most important constituents in forms that are more stable than
those that occur in fresh garlic. Studies in test tubes and animals suggest
that AGE might be useful in preventing cancer.
The 37 people in the current study were between 40 and 79 years old and had
been diagnosed with colon polyps. Polyps of a size greater than 5
millimeters were surgically removed before beginning treatment. After
surgery, the people were randomly assigned to take either three capsules
two times per day of a high-dose AGE, providing 2.4 milliliters of AGE per
day, or the same number of capsules of a low-dose AGE, providing 0.16
milliliters of AGE per day (an amount expected to have no effect).
Compared with the number and size of polyps present at the beginning of the
study, there was an increase in polyps at both the 6-month and 12-month
exams in people taking the low-dose AGE; however, people taking the
high-dose AGE had a significant decrease in number and size of polyps after
The results of this study suggest that AGE might prevent colon cancer in
people with high risk by reducing the number and size of precancerous colon
polyps. These findings need to be replicated in a larger study. Whether
fresh garlic and extracts of fresh garlic might have similar preventive
effects is a subject for future research.
A number of dietary factors might contribute to colon cancer risk. A diet
that is rich in vegetables appears to be the most protective. In contrast,
frequently eating fried or darkly browned meat more than doubles risk,
apparently because of the formation of cancer-causing chemicals during
high-temperature cooking. Some studies have found that increasing dietary
fiber can reduce risk, but other studies have failed to confirm those
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Healthnotes Newswire (April 20, 2006)-In people known to have colon polyps,
an aged garlic extract can prevent new polyps and reduce the number and
size of existing polyps, according to the Journal of Nutrition
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