Anticancer effects of garlic and garlic-derived bioactive compounds and its potential status as functional food

Jacky Zong, Danik M. Martirosyan


Background: Garlic, or Allium savitum, has long been used to treat various diseases, including cancer. The anticancer effects of garlic are linked to the several garlic-derived organosulfur compounds, such as allicin, ajoene, DAS, DADS, DATS, and SAMC. Animal and in vitro studies have demonstrated that garlic bioactive compounds may prevent cancer through mechanisms such as inducing cell cycle arrest, promoting apoptosis, and inhibiting angiogenesis in different cancer cells. Observational studies, including case-control and cohort studies, have been conducted to confirm the protective effect against colorectal, gastric, and other cancers associated with garlic-derived bioactive compounds and raw garlic consumption, but results have been mixed. Analysis of cell and animal model studies and epidemiological studies using the FDA’s evidence-based review system for health claims and FFC’s proposed standard for evaluating and developing functional food, it has been concluded that garlic cannot yet be considered as a functional food primarily due to the inconclusive data from observational studies and insufficient evidence from randomized clinical trials. 

Keywords: Garlic, cancer, allicin, bioactive compound, functional food

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