Eating fresh garlic and onions may lower your risk of developing stomach cancer

If you enjoy eating plenty of fresh garlic and onions, safe to say you aren’t the most popular guy on an elevator, but your risk of developing stomach cancer may be comparatively low.

That’s the primary finding of a recent study in which researchers used data collected from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). More than 520,000 subjects in 10 European countries completed food frequency questionnaires. After an average of six and a half years of follow up, researchers produced these results:

  • High intake of onions and garlic was associated with a reduced risk of intestinal gastric cancer
  • High intake of citrus fruit was associated with a lower risk of gastric cancer
  • High intake of fruits and vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of cancer of the esophagus
  • The latter two associations were described as weak, partly because the size of the cohort was quite large, while only 188 cases of esophagus cancer and 400 cases of gastric cancer were reported.

When these relatively low cancer rates are taken into consideration along with the fact that fruit and vegetable intake was generally quite high, a casual observer might be tempted to associate the two findings.

Dr. Julie Sharp (of Cancer Research UK) assessed these results in an interview with NutraIngredients, noting that the small number of cancer cases indicates that further confirmation is needed. But she added, “We know that a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, can reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially bowel cancer.”

“Garlic, Onions Could Protect Against Stomach Cancer” NutraIngredients, 5/16/06,