August 29, 2007

Garlic fights brain cancer

A report published in the September, 2007 issue of Cancer, an American Cancer Society journal, revealed the discovery of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina that organo-sulfur compounds occurring in garlic have the ability to combat glioblastoma, a brain cancer that carries a poor prognosis.

Associate professor of Neurosciences and Neurology Swapan Ray, PhD, along with Arabinda Das, PhD and Naren L. Banik, PhD examined the effect of diallyl sulfide, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl trisulfide from garlic on two human glioblastoma cell cultures. While all of the compounds triggered self-destruction (apoptosis) in the cancerous cells, diallyl trisulfide had the strongest effect. Although garlic has antioxidant properties, the apoptosis observed in this study was found to be the result of reactive oxygen species produced by the garlic-derived compounds within the glioblastoma cells.

"This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells," Dr Ray stated. "More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients."

To obtain the maximum benefit from consuming garlic, Dr Ray suggested cutting and peeling fresh cloves and letting them sit fifteen minutes before cooking with or consuming them, to allow sufficient time for the release of allinase, an enzyme that produces garlic's anticancer compounds.

"Our basic studies will eventually be translated to clinics for patient care," predicted Dr Banik. "We may have to wait several years before its application to humans, but the significance of this discovery is enormous. The benefits from this research to brain cancer patients will bring great satisfaction to researchers and clinicians who are trying to find a successful treatment for this devastating cancer."