Mechanisms by which garlic and allyl sulfur compounds suppress carcinogen bioactivation. Garlic and carcinogenesis

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2001;492:69-81. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4615-1283-7_7.


Overall, a host of studies provides compelling evidence that garlic and its organic allyl sulfur components are effective inhibitors of the cancer process. These studies reveal that the benefits of garlic are not limited to a specific species, to a particular tissue, or to a specific carcinogen. Several mechanisms are likely to account for this protection. Notable among these is a depression in nitrosamine formation and a reduction in carcinogen bioactivation. The benefits provided by garlic must be viewed as part of the entire diet, since several dietary constituents can influence the degree of protection. More than one compound is responsible for the anticancer properties associated with garlic. Future research should focus on how genetic variability and daily environmental factors influence the anticancer benefits attributed to garlic and its allyl sulfur components.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Allyl Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Allyl Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Diet
  • Garlic / chemistry
  • Garlic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompetence
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Nitrosamines / metabolism*
  • Nitroso Compounds / adverse effects
  • Nitroso Compounds / metabolism
  • Phytotherapy
  • Risk Factors
  • Sulfides / pharmacology
  • Sulfides / therapeutic use
  • Sulfur Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Sulfur Compounds / therapeutic use


  • Allyl Compounds
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Nitrosamines
  • Nitroso Compounds
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfur Compounds
  • allyl sulfide