Recent studies have shown a decrease in breast cancer risk due to the consumption of vegetables, especially onion and garlic.
Onions and garlic belong to the ‘allium genus’ family with a rich, pungent taste. The two vegetables are known to effectively fight off diseases like diabetes, heart disease and now, cancer.
A recent research, done on women in Puerto Rico, has shown evidence of a reduced risk of breast cancer due to consumption of certain vegetables. The study was led by Gauri Desai, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University at Buffalo, part of The State University of New York.
According to Desai, Puerto Rican women were chosen because, “Puerto Rico has lower breast cancer rates, compared to the mainland [United States], which makes it an important population to study,” and a condiment called ‘sofrito’ – containing ample amounts of garlic and onion, is a traditional sauce consumed across the island.
The experiment comprised of 314 women, aged between 30 and 79, who had breast cancer between the years 2008 and 2014. The candidates were selected after thorough research through the hospital and clinic’s patient records. 346 control participants, matching factors like age and living areas, were also included for better comparisons. The control subjects had no history of cancer, except nonmelanoma skin cancer.
The team inquired about the dietary patterns and total onion and garlic intake of the subjects via a food frequency questionnaire, and found a positive correlation between the reduction of breast cancer risk and vegetable intake.
According to the author of the study, published in the journal, Nutrition and Cancer, “Sofrito intake, when examined alone, was inversely associated with breast cancer; for those consuming sofrito more than once/day, there was a 67% decrease in risk, compared to never consumers.”
Desai added on the subject, “We found that among Puerto Rican women, the combined intake of onion and garlic, as well as sofrito, was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer.”
Although, the research was observational in nature and cannot explain the reason behind the findings, researchers think that the flavonols and organosulfur compounds present in onions and garlic might have a major role to play in the outcomes. Especially, S-allylcysteine, dially disulfide and diallyl sulfide in garlic and alk(ey)yl cysteine sulphoxides in onions, which are known to show anticarcinogenic properties in humans and other animals, according to an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at UB and the study’s author, Dr. Lina Mu.
Researchers are still working further for finding the correlation between the two, as the research only included a small group of people – which doesn’t present an accurate model. Furthermore, the results might have been an underestimate of the true relationship between the two factors.
The team also added, “Although the recipe for sofrito varies to some extent, other ingredients, such as bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and black pepper are usually added. Since we did not adjust our models for these ingredients, we cannot be sure that our results were due to the sole effect of onions and garlic.”