Adding Onion, Garlic To Your Daily Diet May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

The women who enjoy adding onions and garlic to their food may have lower risk of breast cancer. A new study suggests that these ingredients may have been contributing to the lower rates of the disease in Puerto Rico than in the rest of the U.S.

Researchers analyzed the health benefits of onions and garlic used in sofrito, a staple food in Puerto Rico. The team said their study is the first to be a population-based effort to examine the link between breast cancer and onion and garlic consumption.

Puerto Rico is known for large consumption of the said ingredients due to the popularity of sofrito. Many women on the Caribbean island also add onions and garlic to guisos or stews and bean- and rice-based dishes.

"Studying Puerto Rican women who consume a lot of onions and garlic as sofrito was unique," Gauri Desai, lead study author and an epidemiology PhD student at the University at Buffalo (UB), said in a statement. "Puerto Rico has lower breast cancer rates compared to the mainland U.S., which makes it an important population to study." 

For the study, Desai and her colleagues gathered more than 600 women who were enrolled in the Atabey Study of Breast Cancer, a case-control study named after the Puerto Rican goddess of fertility. The researchers then analyzed their diet and health from 2008 to 2014 to see how breast cancer would develop. 

The study, published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer, showed the women who ate sofrito more than once a day had a 67 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who did not consume the food. 

"We found that among Puerto Rican women, the combined intake of onion and garlic, as well as sofrito, was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer," Desai said. 

Researchers said the onions and garlic provided flavonols and organosulfar compounds that potentially helped in the decrease. Onions contain alk(en)yl cysteine sulphoxides, while garlic offers S-allylcysteine, diallyl sulfide and diallyl disulfide. 

"These compounds show anticarcinogenic properties in humans, as well as in experimental animal studies," Lina Mu, senior study author and an associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health at UB, said. 

Onions and garlic Daily consumption of onions and garlic has been linked to lower breast cancer risk in women. Pixabay