New research examines the consumption of onion and garlic among women in Puerto Rico and suggests that the vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer.
In regards to cancer, several studies have specifically explored the links between onion and garlic consumption and the risk of colorectal, stomach, and prostate cancer.
Overall, these studies have found that the more of these vegetables that people consume, the lower their risk of developing these cancers.
However, less extensive research has gone into the link with breast cancer say researchers led by Gauri Desai, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University at Buffalo (UB), part of The State University of New York.
Sofrito linked to 67% lower breast cancer risk
The researchers found an inverse association between moderate and high total onion and garlic consumption and breast cancer cases, compared with low consumption of these vegetables.
Their findings were consistent after the researchers had stratified the results according to menopausal status, suggesting that “High onion and garlic consumption is protective against breast cancer in [the studied] population.”
Specifically, the authors write, “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.”
Why might onions, garlic lower cancer risk?
Although the study was observational and cannot explain the mechanisms behind the findings, the researchers suspect that the flavonols and organosulfur compounds abundant in onions and garlic may be responsible for the anticancer effects.
In particular, the S-allylcysteine, diallyl disulfide, and diallyl sulfide in garlic and the alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides in onions have shown “anticarcinogenic properties in humans, as well as in experimental animal studies,” says Dr. Lina Mu, an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at UB and the study’s senior author.