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Popular culture might claim that garlic can keep vampires away, but a growing body of scientific evidence says that the herb can also help keep lung cancer and other types of cancers at bay.
A study carried out at the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China looked at more than 1,400 lung cancer patients and 4,500 healthy adults. They discovered that people who ate raw garlic at least twice a week were 44 percent less likely to develop lung cancer. Even those who smoke, which is the biggest cause of the disease, were a remarkable 30 percent less likely to develop lung cancer if they were regular garlic eaters.
Past studies have shown that garlic has a protective effect on the lungs.
A study from the University of South Australia, meanwhile, pointed to a nearly one-third reduction in the risk of bowel tumors as a result of consuming garlic regularly.
The key to garlic's success is likely a chemical it contains known as allicin, which is released when garlic cloves are chopped or crushed. It is believed to reduce inflammation and is also an antioxidant. Garlic also boasts antibacterial properties and can enhance DNA repair.
Countless studies show garlic's healing effects
According to the National Cancer Institute, a number of population studies have demonstrated an association between garlic intake and reduced risk of cancers such as colon, stomach, esophagus, breast and pancreas. Analysis of data taken from seven population studies indicated that higher amounts of garlic consumption were connected to a lower risk of colorectal and stomach cancers.
In one of the many studies supporting this notion, the Iowa Women's Study, the women who ate the most garlic had a 50 percent lower risk of getting distal colon cancer than those who ate the least amount of garlic.
Raw garlic has been used for thousands of years to treat countless ailments ranging from impotence to stomach bugs. Other studies have shown that it could help with malaria, hospital superbugs and even the common cold.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor of epidemiology and nutrition, Lenore Arab, said: "There seems to be a strong, consistent protective effect for people who are regular garlic consumers."
Dr. Arab was part of a team of researchers who reviewed hundreds of studies that looked at garlic's ability to prevent cancer.
Guidelines from the World Health Organization suggest consuming the equivalent of 2 to 5 mg of allicin each day. This would be the equivalent of 2 to 5 grams of fresh garlic each day, which is about one clove; 2 to 5 milligrams of garlic oil; or 300 to 1,000 milligrams of garlic extract.
Growing your own garlic is surprisingly easy
Most of the garlic sold in this country is actually grown in China, where pollution is prevalent. That's why many people who eat garlic for health reasons choose to grow it themselves, and it's surprisingly easy to accomplish this.
Plant some cloves obtained from a trusted source in a hole in some dirt with the root end facing down, and then cover it in soil. Place it in a sunny area and water it regularly. The right time to dig up the bulb is when about half of the leaves have turned yellow.
Garlic also has the benefit of repelling pests such as aphids from your garden. It's well-suited to vertical gardening solutions, as it can be planted near a number of other fruits and vegetables including tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and peppers.