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Current Cancer Drug Targets


ISSN (Print): 1568-0096
ISSN (Online): 1873-5576

Garlic [Allium sativum]: A Review of its Potential Use as an Anti-Cancer Agent

Author(s): Martha Thomson and Muslim Ali

Volume 3, Issue 1, 2003

Page: [67 - 81] Pages: 15

DOI: 10.2174/1568009033333736

Price: $65


Garlic [Allium sativum] is among the oldest of all cultivated plants. It has been used as a medicinal agent for thousands of years. It is a remarkable plant, which has multiple beneficial effects such as antimicrobial, antithrombotic, hypolipidemic, antiarthritic, hypoglycemic and antitumor activity. In this review, we will discuss particularly the largely preclinical use of this agent in the treatment and prevention of cancer. A number of studies have demonstrated the chemopreventive activity of garlic by using different garlic preparations including fresh garlic extract, aged garlic, garlic oil and a number of organosulfur compounds derived from garlic. The chemopreventive activity has been attributed to the presence of organosulfur compounds in garlic. How this is achieved is not fully understood, but several modes of action have been proposed. These include its effect on drug metabolizing enzymes, antioxidant properties and tumor growth inhibition. Most of these studies were carried out in the animal models. Also, recent research has focused on the antimutagenic activity of garlic. Recently, it has been observed that aged garlic extract, but not the fresh garlic extract, exhibited radical scavenging activity. The two major compounds in aged garlic, S-allylcysteine and S-allylmercapto-L-cysteine, had the highest radical scavenging activity. In addition, some organosulfur compounds derived from garlic, including S-allylcysteine, have been found to retard the growth of chemically induced and transplantable tumors in several animal models. Therefore, the consumption of garlic may provide some kind of protection from cancer development.

Keywords: allylmercapto-l-cysteine, anti-cancer agents, garlic, allium sativum

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