Garlic as Cancer Treatment

If you have cancer, you've probably heard that eating lots of vegetables can fight the disease and give your body the nutritional support it needs to withstand chemotherapy. One vegetable in particular—garlic—contains substances that are especially powerful weapons against cancer, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. So including garlic in your diet may help you treat cancer.

A head of garlic and garlic capsules on a counter. (Image: moken78/iStock/Getty Images)

Killing Cancer Cells

Cell culture studies have shown that garlic can help cancer cells die off, reports the American Cancer Society. The National Cancer Institute also says that garlic can induce the deaths of cancer cells and that garlic can reduce the rate at which cancer cells proliferate, thereby slowing the progression of cancer in the body. In laboratory studies, garlic has killed leukemia cells, and in animal studies, garlic has killed cancer cells in the lungs, breasts, stomach, esophagus and colon, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Slowing Tumor Growth

Both animal studies and cell culture studies have revealed that garlic may reduce the growth rates of cancerous tumors, the American Cancer Society says. Garlic can either slow down or stop cancerous tumors in the tissue of various body parts, including the stomach, bladder, prostate and colon, reports the American Institute for Cancer Research.


It's unclear what amounts of garlic are best to use in treating cancer, says the American Cancer Society, but eating garlic regularly as part of a diet that includes at least five servings of vegetables a day should help you fight cancer. The National Cancer Institute also reports that it's difficult to know how much garlic to consume but recommends eating one to two fresh garlic cloves, 0.4 and 1.2 grams of dry garlic powder, or 2 and 5 milligrams of garlic oil every day.

Safety Considerations

You should always talk with your doctor about whether to consume large amounts of garlic, cautions the American Cancer Society, because garlic may affect the way your liver removes chemotherapy and other drugs from your body. Also, garlic has blood-thinning properties, so you shouldn't ingest large quantities of garlic prior to surgery, the National Cancer Institute says. Finally, if your cancer treatments are causing you to feel nauseous or to vomit, you should be aware that garlic may also cause nausea or vomiting, advises the National Cancer Institute.

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