Could Onion and Garlic Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer?

Healthy Foods Contributor

Onion and garlic are two common ingredients often included in dishes when cooking as it adds aroma and flavour. If you’re an avid fan of onion and garlic, here’s some good news – daily consumption of the two ingredients can decrease risk in developing breast cancer.

This is according to the findings of a study led by University at Buffalo and University of Puerto Rico researchers. The study which was carried out in Puerto Rico, was the first population-based study to examine the association between onion and garlic consumption and breast cancer. Results for the study were published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

Puerto Rico was chosen as the place to study to help researchers understand why Puerto Rico has lower breast cancer rates compared to the mainland United States.

This was also linked to the fact that the women there consume larger amounts of garlic and onion compared to Europe and the United States.

Why the women in Puerto Rico consumes onion and garlic more is largely due to the popularity of sofrito, a condiment made up of garlic and onion, viewed as a staple in Puerto Rico cuisine.

“Onions are garlic are rich in flavanols and organosulfar compounds,” said Gauri Desai, an epidemiology PhD student in UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions as well as the study’s lead author.

In particular, garlic contains compounds such as S-allylcysteine, diallyl sulfide and diallyl disulfide, while onions contain alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides. “These compounds show anticarcinogenic properties in humans, as well as in experimental animal studies,” said Lina Mu, the study’s senior author, who is an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at UB.

“Studying Puerto Rico women who consumer a lot of onions and garlic as sofrito was unique,” she said before adding that it was the total intake of onions and garlic, not sofrito alone that associated with low breast cancer risk.

The study was conducted between 2008 and 2014, and included 314 women with breast cancer and 346 control subjects. Study participants were enrolled in the Atabey Study of Breast Cnacer.

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