Anticarcinogenic properties of garlic: a review

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2004;44(6):479-88. doi: 10.1080/10408690490886700.


Garlic is a popular spice added to several edible preparations and is a remedy for a variety of ailments. Epidemeological as well as laboratory studies have shown that garlic consumption reduces certain cancer incidences in the stomach, colon, mammary, cervical, etc. This article focuses on the general chemistry, metabolism, anticarcinogenic properties, mechanism of action behind the anticarcinogenic effects, functional foods based on garlic; and future areas of research. Garlic has been shown to metabolized into N-aceryl-S-allyl cysteine, allyl mercaptan, diallyl disulfide, diallyl sulfide, diallyl sulfoxide, diallyl sulfone, and allyl methyl sulfide. Garlic has been thought to bring about its anticarcinogenic effect through a number of mechanisms, such as the scavenging of radicals, increasing gluathione levels, increasing the activities of enzymes such as glutathione S-transferase, catalase, inhibition of cytochrome p4502E1, DNA repair mechanisms, prevention of chromosomal damage etc. Future research should standardize the dosage of garlic and type, ie., whether it should be taken fresh, cooked, or aged. The formulation of odorless functional foods with the retention of anticarcinogenic activity should be further studied.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents*
  • Antioxidants
  • Diet
  • Garlic* / chemistry
  • Garlic* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Antioxidants