Eating raw garlic twice a week could potentially halve the risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.
Researchers from the Jiangsu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China carried out a population-based case control study between 2003 and 2010, to analyze the link between raw garlic consumption and lung cancer.
The researchers collected data from 1,424 lung cancer patients, alongside 4,543 healthy controls.
Data was compiled through face-to-face interviews with the participants, who were asked to answer a standard questionnaire disclosing information on diet and lifestyle habits, including how often they ate garlic and whether they smoked.
Results of the study showed that participants who consumed raw garlic on a regular basis as a part of their diet (two or more times a week), had a 44% decreased risk of developing lung cancer.
The study authors say:
"Protective association between intake of raw garlic and lung cancer has been observed with a dose-response pattern, suggesting that garlic may potentially serve as a chemo-preventive agent for lung cancer."
Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer in both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 205,974 Americans were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009.
Long-term smoking is the most common cause of lung cancer, found to account for 9 out of every 10 cases of the disease.
Interestingly, when looking specifically at participants who smoked, researchers found that eating raw garlic still decreased their risk of lung cancer by around 30%.
The researchers say that the link between garlic and lung cancer prevention warrant further in-depth investigation.
Previous research has also shown that consumption of garlic may have preventive properties against certain forms of cancer.
A study from the New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center suggested that a compound found in garlic, selenium, may possess an anti-cancer property
Other research from the Medical University of South Carolina, found that organosulfur compounds found in garlic may play a part in killing brain cancer cells.