Is Garlic A Promising Food For Prostate Cancer?

Most modern drugs came from an early substance found in nature.

Chemical engineering isolates creates variants and test these drugs, but most of them were already found in plants.

Thus, natural medicine and natural remedies can be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs in some cases.

Indeed, they can also be as dangerous as pharmaceutical drugs when used irresponsibly. That’s why it is vital to guide our natural supplements and nutritional choices based on scientific facts.

In this article, we’re exploring one of the most ancient medicines, now a promising alternative for different types of cancer. Garlic (Allium sativum) is a part of the Allium genus, which shares similar features and substances with other members.

Leeks, onions, scallions, and chives are also found in this group of plants. They produce many sulfate-based substances that provide their characteristic odor and flavor.

But besides giving them a distinctive taste, these substances have different health applications.

One of them is as an adjuvant for the cancer treatment in some types, including breast cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, rectal cancer, and others. Is prostate cancer on the list?

Can garlic lower prostate cancer risk?

Garlic has been used for medical purposes for thousands of years. In modern applications, it is commonly used as a spice and sometimes as a food additive.

It was recommended to treat cancer by Hippocrates, and recent evidence backs up his statements.

According to modern science, garlic has over 100 substances with different effects. They are a complex mix of polyphenols, carotenoids, and organosulphur compounds.

Allicin is probably one of the most important, but we also have alliinase, alliin, and ajoene. They are behind garlic’s odor, taste, and health properties, and several studies have suggested multiple mechanisms by which garlic counters the development of cancer:

It induces apoptosis in cancer cells

Ajoene and other organosulphur compounds in garlic can trigger apoptosis in cancer cells. This substance restricts cancer proliferation in different cell lines and has been predominantly studied in leukemia. It induces the inhibition of key enzymes in the cell cycle, such as BCL-2 and caspase 3. In some cases, it has been used successfully as an adjuvant along with the standard pharmaceutical treatment for cancer.

Another substance in garlic is allicin. These sulfur compounds are known to inhibit the cell cycle while inducing apoptosis. Allicin is particularly important in gastrointestinal cancers. Allicin is known to increase the activity of immune cells, especially macrophages and NK cells. The toxicity of lymphocytes is also increased, which improves body defenses against cancer.

Recent studies in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia also showed significant improvements in the patient’s symptoms. In prostate cancer, as well as BPH, it may have a role in causing cell death and modulating the cell cycle.

It protects genes from toxic agents

Garlic shows genotoxic protection effects, according to studies. It has a protective effect on the DNA by inhibiting the production of certain toxic substances. For example, it reduces the synthesis and biological activity of nitrosamines.

These substances increase cancer risk by causing changes to genes associated with the cell cycle. It also changes certain liver enzymes’ activity and restricts the activation of dangerous substances such as dimethylnitrosamine. Additionally, it works along with the liver to potentiate its detoxifying functions. It accelerates the clearance of aflatoxin B1 and its genotoxicity and counters the damage done by free radicals in the DNA.

Another type of protection, according to studies, has to do with radiation. Garlic has been associated with reducing side effects after radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which often causes toxicity and may trigger cancer. It is also useful to counter the effects of gamma rays and prevent mutations.

It counters inflammation in cancer

Prostate cancer cells use inflammation to their advantage. This is a feature shared by many other types of cancer. What they do is triggering inflammation to increase blood flow and prompt the formation of new blood vessels. This is how they increase their intake of nutrients and survive their own rapid growth. In some cases, cancer starts in highly inflamed areas or is triggered by inflammation.

Garlic reduces cancer risk suppressing the inflammatory response and inhibiting tumor progression. It has potent activity against lipoxygenase, an inflammatory enzyme. It also inhibits nuclear transcription factors that contribute to creating proinflammatory cytokines. In garlic, flavonoids are apparently the most anti-inflammatory substances and are behind these properties.

It has antioxidant activity

Garlic can also protect the prostate and other tissues from free radicals. It contributes to chelating iron and increases the antioxidant potential of several enzymes. Garlic contains a high selenium content, which contributes to its antioxidant activity. Other substances with this potential include quercetin, cyanidin, and other flavonoids, especially when administered along with vitamin C and E. This reduces cancer risk in the prostate and other tissues.

What does the research say?

The mechanisms listed above can be applied to prostate cancer and other types of cancer. In theory, garlic should contribute to prostate cancer prevention. But what does the research say? After considering some early evidence, garlic poses as a promising agent against prostate cancer, as you will see.

Study 1

We can start by considering benign prostatic hyperplasia to know how garlic interacts with the prostate in healthy patients. To evaluate this, a large study was performed in multiple health centers and including nearly 3000 individuals. They took surveys to assess their garlic intake and their BPH status. The study showed that people who consumed more garlic had a lower chance of BPH (2).

Study 2

Knowing that animal studies have had a promising effect in urologic cancers, a scientific paper went forward. It published a review joining the results of various clinical trials with urologic cancer. They suggest that garlic leads to immune response stimulation and has a beneficial effect on prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and other urologic cancers (3).

Study 3

Entering more in-depth into the subject, a study evaluated the effects of diallyl sulfide in the cell cycle. This was an in vitro study using human prostate cancer cells. The study showed that diallyl sulfide has the effect of arresting the cell cycle by downregulating the expression of CDK1. In other words, it reduces the synthesis of specific proteins and stops cells from continuing to divide (4).

Study 4

If that happens in vitro (in lab samples), what would occur in vivo (in living organisms)? Another team of researchers evaluated the effect of diallyl trisulfide in human prostate cancer cells and TRAMP mice cancer cells to answer that question. This team of researchers evaluated a protein known as XIAP (X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis). Their results showed that after diallyl trisulfide treatment, these protein levels were decreased. In other words, a protein that inhibits apoptosis in cancer cells was not as active as before. Thus, cancer cells were more likely to die in the presence of garlic substances (5).

Study 5

Another study in TRAMP mice evaluated not only prostate cancer but also its metastasis in the lungs. This study was published in the scientific journal Cancer Research and studies the anti-cancer potential of diallyl trisulfide. According to its results, this substance inhibits the progression of prostate cancer into a late-stage disease. It slows down and reduces the aggressiveness of cancer. It is also associated with a lower rate of metastasis to the lung tissue (6).

Takeaway

Studying prostate cancer is not easy. It takes considerable time to create progressive models that reach the clinical application. However, the link between garlic and prostate cancer is clear and has a solid rationale. Thus, it is no surprise that many professionals recommend including garlic as a spice for foods. Some may even suggest to swallow a garlic clove a day or use garlic-based supplements to prevent prostate cancer. All of this is due to the assumption that garlic reduces inflammation, protects the cell from toxic agents, provides antioxidant activity, and induces apoptosis in cancer cells.

Further health benefits of garlic

Doctors recommending fresh and raw garlic for its health benefits usually prescribe a dose of 2-5 grams every day. Dried garlic powder doses could range between 0.4 and 1.2 grams a day. And garlic extract doses are usually 300-1000 mg.

They may recommend aged garlic to lower blood pressure levels, kill bacteria, lower blood sugar, or prevent blood clotting. So, let us consider some health benefits this healing plant has to offer besides its anti-tumor effects (7):

Garlic to lower cholesterol levels

Studies show that garlic consumption reduces our levels of cholesterol. According to the researchers, garlic bioactive substances inhibit enzymes that synthesize cholesterol. More specifically, it is probably one of the garlic compounds with allyl-disulfide that is behind this effect.

Garlic for hypertension treatment

Garlic can also reduce blood pressure levels, even in uncontrolled hypertension patients. One study can lower systolic blood pressure by around 10 mmHg by consuming a garlic supplement daily for 12 weeks. The mechanism has to do with the homeostasis of blood pressure in the kidneys and the endothelium. Hydrogen sulfide produced after garlic is consumed has similar roles to that of nitric oxide and may even protect the heart from ischemic disease.

Garlic to prevent blood clotting

Another cardiovascular effect of garlic has to do with platelet aggregation and thrombus formation. Further, garlic causes inhibition of platelet aggregation and changes in the mobilization of calcium and cyclic AMP in platelets.

Garlic in neurodegenerative disease

Garlic components can be useful to prevent or treat some neurodegenerative diseases. It has been tested in patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and other neurologic problems. It has been found to reduce edema severity in the ischemic brain and reduces oxidative damage in the nervous tissue. A substance known as thiacremonone modulates the activation of the glial cells and inhibits inflammation. Thus, it is a promising therapy against neurodegenerative disease triggered by inflammation.

Garlic effects on arthritis patients

Patients with arthritis may improve their condition by consuming allium vegetables. It apparently provides significant protection to the hip articulation and other joints. Diallyl disulfide has been suggested to inhibit the expression of a protease that degrades cartilage tissue. It also inhibits inflammation by countering proinflammatory enzymes and cytokine production.

Garlic as a natural immunity booster

As noted above, garlic has been used to boost the immune system, too. It heightens the ability of the white blood cells to respond and fight off an infection. Specifically, it works on macrophages and natural killer cells. According to one study, this reduces the occurrence of common cold symptoms and speeds up these patients’ recovery.

Garlic and its antimicrobial effects

Garlic can also counter numerous microbes and pathogens. The antimicrobial effect has been widely known for decades. It affects many bacteria, some viruses, and a long list of fungi and parasites. The most critical viruses include herpes simplex virus, influenza types, and the coxsackievirus, which are primarily attacked by ajoene and allicin. The antibacterial effect is more active against Enterobacter, Staphylococcus, Salmonella, Proteus, Pseudomonas, Klebsiella, and even Helicobacter pylori. The antifungal effect has been compared to ketoconazole and is active against Candida infections, Aspergillus, Malassezia furfur, and other fungi. And its antiparasitic effects are functional against Ascaris lumbricoides, Entamoeba histolytica, and more.

Garlic and diabetes

Besides lowering cholesterol levels, garlic is also known to lower serum glucose levels. This plant’s effects have been compared to that of glibenclamide, a common prescription drug to lower blood sugar. Still, no study recommends changing your prescription drugs without talking to your doctor.

Conclusion

Garlic and cancer have an inverse association, according to several studies. Garlic juice, garlic supplementation, and other means of consumption can protect normal cells from turning into cancer. Furthermore, garlic is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a similarly reduced risk of infections by boosting the immune system.

The anti-cancer property of garlic has been used and recommended since Hippocrates. But suppose we want to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. In that case, we should combine this measure with a healthy diet for problems. Thhis includes consuming more cruciferous vegetables and fruits and trying to reduce our modifiable risk factors as much as possible.

Next Up

garlic supplement

Find out about Our Garlic Supplement: Ben’s Organic Garlic Extract Tincture.

Sources

  1. Asemani, Y., Zamani, N., Bayat, M., & Amirghofran, Z. (2019). Allium vegetables for possible future of cancer treatment. Phytotherapy Research, 33(12), 3019-3039.
  2. Galeone, C., Pelucchi, C., Talamini, R., Negri, E., Dal Maso, L., Montella, M., … & La Vecchia, C. (2007). Onion and garlic intake and the odds of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Urology, 70(4), 672-676.
  3. Lamm, D. L., & Riggs, D. R. (2001). Enhanced immunocompetence by garlic: role in bladder cancer and other malignancies. The Journal of nutrition, 131(3), 1067S-1070S.
  4. Arunkumar, A., Vijayababu, M. R., Srinivasan, N., Aruldhas, M. M., & Arunakaran, J. (2006). Garlic compound, diallyl disulfide induces cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer cell line PC-3. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 288(1-2), 107-113.
  5. Kim, S. H., Bommareddy, A., & Singh, S. V. (2011). Garlic constituent diallyl trisulfide suppresses x-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein in prostate cancer cells in culture and in vivo. Cancer prevention research, 4(6), 897-906.
  6. Singh, S. V., Powolny, A. A., Stan, S. D., Xiao, D., Arlotti, J. A., Warin, R., … & Dhir, R. (2008). Garlic constituent diallyl trisulfide prevents development of poorly differentiated prostate cancer and pulmonary metastasis multiplicity in TRAMP mice. Cancer research, 68(22), 9503-9511.
  7. Mamatha, T., & Kazmi, S. (2017). Garlic: an updated review on multipotential medicinal applications. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 9(10), 1874-1881.

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