Although the major risk factors for liver cancer have been established, preventive factors for liver cancer have not been fully explored. We evaluated the association between raw garlic consumption and liver cancer in a large population-based case-control study in Eastern China. The study was conducted in Jiangsu, China, from 2003 to 2010. A total of 2011 incident liver cancer cases and 7933 randomly selected population-controls were interviewed. Epidemiological data including raw garlic intake and other exposures were collected, and serum markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection were assayed. Overall, eating raw garlic twice or more per week was inversely associated with liver cancer, with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 0.77 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.62-0.96) compared to those ingesting no raw garlic or less than twice per week. In stratified analyses, high intake of raw garlic was inversely associated with liver cancer among Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) negative individuals, frequent alcohol drinkers, those having history of eating mold-contaminated food or drinking raw water, and those without family history of liver cancer. Marginal interactions on an additive scale were observed between low raw garlic intake and HBsAg positivity (attributable proportion due to interaction (AP) = 0.31, 95% CI: -0.01-0.62) and heavy alcohol drinking (AP = 0.28, 95% CI: 0.00-0.57). Raw garlic consumption is inversely associated with liver cancer. Such an association shed some light on the potential etiologic role of garlic intake on liver cancer, which in turn might provide a possible dietary intervention to reduce liver cancer in Chinese population.
Keywords: Chinese population; garlic; hepatitis B virus; interaction; liver cancer.