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Onion and garlic linked with lower risk of breast cancer in women

Researchers say the foods could help reduce breast cancer risk by nearly 70 percent

Photo (c) Lynne317 - Getty Images
Researchers from the University of Buffalo have found that women who regularly consume onions and garlic could be reducing their risk of developing breast cancer.

In a population-based study in Puerto Rico, the team looked at consumption of the two foods and found that eating them on a daily basis led to a significant reduction in breast cancer risk.

“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,” said researcher Gauri Desai. 

How the ingredients help

The women involved in the study were between the ages of 30 and 79, and 346 women without breast cancer were compared with 314 women who had been diagnosed with the disease. 

All of the participants completed food frequency questionnaires so the researchers could determine how often they were consuming onions, garlic, or sofrito -- a popular condiment in Puerto Rico with an onion and garlic base. 

The study revealed that consuming onions and garlic regularly was effective in reducing the women’s likelihood of developing breast cancer. When compared with those who never ate garlic or onions, those who incorporated the ingredients into their daily lives were nearly 70 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. 

According to Desai, the ingredients contain “flavonols and organosulfur compounds,” both of which have properties that are known to reduce cancer risk. The compounds have also been shown to prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.. 

Diet plays a role

Earlier this summer, researchers found that eating less red meat could also be effective for women to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. 

While red meat in any capacity has been found to be bad for consumers’ overall health, opting for poultry instead of red meat can be beneficial in reducing the risk of breast cancer. 

“Red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen,” said researcher Dale P. Sandler, PhD. “Our study adds further evidence that red meat consumption may be associated with increased risk of breast cancer, whereas poultry was associated with decreased risk.” 

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