In 2012, biotechnologists in India made an amazing discovery. Onion and garlic waste from the food industry could be used to mop up hazardous heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, iron, lead, mercury and tin in contaminated materials. The research appeared in the International Journal of Environment and Pollution (1),(2). The researchers suggested that the onion and garlic remnants should be explored as an alternative remediation material for removing toxic elements from contaminated materials including industrial waste. The (onion and garlic) technique appears to be industrially applicable and viable, the research team suggests. “This may provide an affordable, environmentally friendly and low maintenance technology for small and medium scale industries in developing countries.”
So what does this have to do with cancer?
The heavy metals listed above are classified as human carcinogens by several regulatory agencies. As cancer-causing agents, high blood levels of these agents would put people at greater risk of developing the disease. Foods that could be shown to help rid the body of these metals would, of course, be of great interest in the prevention of cancer.
Supporting good nutrition to help in the fight against cancer is one of the reasons to keep garlic and onions and the Allium genus family group – shallots, leeks and chives in your diet.
There is some new research to explore. Let’s look at some of the studies.
Oxygen, Cancer, and Cleaning up the Cellular Environment
Cancer likes a polluted, oxygen low environment. This is the world of the tumor microenvironment. A 2015 study (3) in the journal Cancer Prevention Research suggested the benefit of garlic, onion, shallot, leek and chive consumption on correcting this tumor microenvironment. The researchers note:
- These vegetables are popular in cuisines worldwide and are valued for their potential medicinal properties. Epidemiologic studies indicate some association of Allium vegetable consumption with decreased risk of cancer, particularly cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.
- The research also suggests compelling evidence that garlic, onions and their sulfur components alter the biological behavior of tumors, tumor microenvironments, or precancerous cells, and decrease cancer risk. The researchers called for more studies to help in determining those who will respond most to increased consumption and determining the optimal amount(s) and preparation(s) of Allium vegetables for cancer prevention will aid the scientific community in making public health recommendations for garlic and onion consumption.
Cancer Loves a Low-Oxygen Environment
In a 2017 study, (4) research doctors found that aged garlic extract (AGE) and its main constituent S-allylcysteine (SAC) are natural antioxidants with protective effects against cancer. These protective effects involve the garlic extract’s ability to help reverse a low-oxygen environment or “hypoxia stress.” Cancer lives and thrives in a low-oxygen environment, in fact numerous studies have shown that cancer creates this environment to protect itself from immune and cancer fighting cells that are fueled by oxygen.
The idea that garlic could help bring oxygen into the cancer’s microenvironment and disrupt the disease’s progress was added to by a 2018 (5) study which found a positive correlation between antioxidant activities and organosulphur (the sulphur component in the garlic/onions) compounds. The study suggests there was a close relationship between antioxidant capacity and organosulphur compounds in Allium vegetables.
In a July 2017 (6) study from doctors at Purdue University a closer look is given to garlic and onions and how they may prevent cancer. Researchers looked at Diallyl trisulfide (DATS), a bioactive compound derived from Allium vegetables, that has been investigated as an anti-cancer and chemopreventive agent. The researchers write: “Preclinical studies provide ample evidence that DATS regulates multiple cancer hallmark pathways including cell cycle, apoptosis (death), angiogenesis (birth), invasion, and metastasis. DATS has been shown to arrest cancer cells at multiple stages of the cell cycle.”
Natural resources such as plants are a curing option in treating cancers and reducing the side effects of current therapeutic modalities.
In an August 2019 study (7), researchers wrote:
Natural resources such as plants are an upright curing option in treating cancers and reducing the side effects of current therapeutic modalities. Allium genus vegetables are of the most interesting herbs in restricting cancers that includes garlic, onions, leeks, chives and shallots.
These plants have been exploited in folk medicine because of their beneficial health effects in improving numerous diseases. These plant compounds with various mechanisms such as hindering cell cycle, inhibiting signaling pathways, inducing apoptosis and antioxidant activity interfere with diverse stages of formation, growth, differentiation and metastasis of cancer cells.
The Magaziner Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Support Program combines conventional, complementary and functional therapies individualized to the needs of each patient. We place great emphasis on an extremely thorough series of specialized lab tests to evaluate the cells of the immune system, inflammatory markers, antioxidant defenses, nutritional status and overall toxic burden.
Our whole-body approach to cancer includes a variety of therapies, such as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, dietary modifications, supplementation, intravenous Vitamin C and other substances, oxidative therapies, immunotherapy, detoxification, lifestyle modifications, exercise therapy, spirituality and mind-body techniques, including stress management and meditation, all with the goal of strengthening the immune system and restoring normal cellular function.
Our treatments are also focused on reducing inflammation, enhancing cellular immune response, improving mitochondrial function, reducing risks of blood clots and inactivating cancer stem cells or cancer initiating cells that are likely to cause recurrences and metastasis of the disease and are often far more harmful than the actual tumor cells. We strive to change the microenvironment and behavior of the cancer cells by reducing the fuel for these cells while leaving healthy cells alone.
If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Negi R, Satpathy G, Tyagi YK, Gupta RK. Biosorption of heavy metals by utilising onion and garlic wastes. International Journal of Environment and Pollution. 2012 Jan 1;49(3-4):179-96.
2 Onion soaks up heavy metal press release Dec 10-2012
3 Nicastro, H. L., Ross, S. A., & Milner, J. A. (2015). Garlic and onions: Their cancer prevention properties. Cancer Prevention Research (Philadelphia, Pa.), 8(3), 181–189.http://doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-14-0172
4. Orozco-Ibarra M, Muñoz-Sánchez J, Zavala-Medina ME, Pineda B, Magaña-Maldonado R, Vázquez-Contreras E, Maldonado PD, Pedraza-Chaverri J, Chánez-Cárdenas ME. Aged garlic extract and S-allylcysteine prevent apoptotic cell death in a chemical hypoxia model.Biol Res. 2016 Feb 1;49(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s40659-016-0067-6.
5 Kim S, Kim DB, Jin W, Park J, Yoon W, Lee Y, Kim S, Lee S, Kim S, Lee OH, Shin D. Comparative studies of bioactive organosulphur compounds and antioxidant activities in garlic (Allium sativum L.), elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum L.) and onion (Allium cepa L.). Natural product research. 2018 May 19;32(10):1193-7.
6 Puccinelli MT, Stan SD. Dietary Bioactive Diallyl Trisulfide in Cancer Prevention and Treatment. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2017 Jul 28;18(8):1645.
7 Asemani Y, Zamani N, Bayat M, Amirghofran Z. Allium vegetables for possible future of cancer treatment. Phytotherapy Research. 2019 Aug 29.