Garlic and Onion Consumption May Prevent Breast Cancer

Garlic and Onion Consumption May Prevent Breast Cancer

A recent study held in Puerto Rico took a look at onion and garlic consumption and the effect these vegetables have on breast cancer. The results may be very positive for some women.


About the study 


Onions and garlic are part of the same plant family as chives, leeks and other species. Not only are they well-loved by many due to their rich flavor, but these vegetables may have disease-fighting characteristics.  Some evidence also links them to curing diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.


In regards to cancer, multiple studies have examined diet and breast cancer risk. In summary, these studies discovered that the more of these vegetables individuals consumed, the lower their risk of developing various cancers became.


A team of researchers decided to look at the diets of women in Puerto Rico and compare their breast cancer risk. The team chose Puerto Rico for two reasons. Puerto Rico has lower breast cancer rates in comparison with the mainland U.S. A largely consumed condiment of Puerto Rico, “sofrito,” is also made mainly of onion and garlic.


The researchers published the results of the study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.


How the researchers gathered data


Using clinical and hospital records, the team discovered 314 women who were breast cancer patients between 2008 and 2014. The women were between the ages of 30 and 79.  The study also included 346 control participants.


To join the control group, participants could not have had cancer with the exception of nonmelanoma skin cancer.  A  food frequency questionnaire told the researchers about dietary habits including onion and garlic consumption, and specifically the sofrito consumption of each participant.


The team adjusted their findings for factors such as body mass index, education, age, history, and smoking status to name a few.


Astounding findings 


The research team discovered that Sofrito consumers who ate it twice or more daily had a 67% lower breast cancer risk. The research team suspects that the flavonols and organosulfur compounds in onions and garlic may help prevent cancer. Specifically, the diallyl disulfide, S-allylcysteine, and diallyl sulfide in garlic and the alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides in onions have shown anticarcinogenic properties in studies involving humans and animals.


Although encouraging, the study did have the limitations of a small group of participants. The group of non-onion and garlic consumers was too small for comparison. Also, no standard Sofrito recipe exists. Sofrito is often homemade and includes additional ingredients such as tomatoes, bell peppers, black pepper, and cilantro.


Regardless, these results are encouraging to onion and garlic consumers hoping to eat a diet that may help prevent breast cancer.


Interested in learning about cancer care available right here in Lawton? Check out The Cancer Centers of Southwest Oklahoma!




1 Taylor & Francis Online. Gauri Desai, Michelle Schelske-Santos, Cruz M. Nazario, et al. Onion and Garlic Intake and Breast Cancer, a Case-Control Study in Puerto Rico.  12 August 2019.




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