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Eating raw garlic may help cut risk of lung cancer almost in half, study finds

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A clove of garlic a day might keep the vampires away, but the vegetable may have other protective properties as well.

According to a new study by researchers from the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, consuming raw garlic might actually help prevent lung cancer, along with other various chronic health problems.

Researchers believe that raw garlic's benefits are connected to a chemical called allicin, which is released once raw garlic is smashed or diced. This chemical is believed to not only reduce inflammation, but also reduce damage from free radicals to the body's cells.

For the study, the research team analyzed data from 1,424 lung cancer patients and 4,500 healthy adults that was collected from 2003 to 2010. The results showed that frequent consumption of raw garlic cut the risk of lung cancer by 44 percent for those who did not smoke.

Researchers also reported that for those who smoked, incorporating raw garlic into their diets could still potentially decrease the risk of lung cancer by 30 percent.

A previous study at the University of South Australia concluded that garlic could decrease the risks of bowel tumors by as much as a third, while other studies have found that garlic can help to repress common colds and assist with inflammation. Although numerous studies have highlighted certain health benefits from eating raw garlic, they have yet to determine whether or not cooked garlic might possess the same capabilities.

“The protective effect of garlic on the development of cancer has been reported in the in vitro and in vivo experimental studies; however, few human epidemiologic studies have evaluated the relationship,” the study’s researchers wrote.

This study was published in Cancer Prevention Research.