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Allium Veggies Lower Stomach Cancer Risk

Allium Veggies Lower Stomach Cancer Risk : Main Image
People who ate the highest amount of allium veggies had a nearly 50% lower risk of stomach cancer
The advice to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables has become a modern day mantra for disease prevention. A study in Gastroenterology affirms such advice and suggests that people who regularly eat veggies from the allium family, such as onions, garlic, and leeks, may lower their risk of stomach cancer by nearly 50%.

Health in the veggies

In this meta-analysis, researchers evaluated 21 studies with a total of 543,220 participants, which looked at the link between allium vegetable consumption and stomach (gastric) cancer. These vegetables include garlic, leeks, chives, scallions, and onions.

Results showed that people who ate the highest amount of allium veggies had a nearly 50% lower risk of stomach cancer compared with people who ate the least. For every 20 grams per day (average weight of 1 garlic bulb) of allium vegetables that participants ate they experienced a 9% decrease in stomach cancer risk.

In addition to calling for more research, the study authors comment, "Allium vegetables contain high levels of flavonols and organosulfur compounds, which contribute to the anticancer effects." They add that such vegetables "have an antibacterial effect against Helicobacter pylori, which is a key risk factor for gastric cancer." Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacteria commonly found in people's stomachs and has been linked to inflammation of the stomach lining, ulcers, and stomach cancer.

What you should know about stomach cancer

  • Stomach cancer is not as common in our country as it is in other parts of the world such as in Japan, and the good news is that stomach cancer rates have been decreasing in the US over the past several decades. Still, more than 20,000 people in the US will be diagnosed each year, so early detection and treatment are important.
  • Risk factors for stomach cancer include: smoking, Helicobacter pylori, age over 50, being a man, and having a family history of stomach cancer. An unhealthy diet--one high in smoked and pickled foods and low in fruits and veggies--is also an important risk factor.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle by getting plenty of exercise, not smoking, eating right, and perhaps adding some healthy allium veggies to your diet. See a doctor to discuss your risk for stomach and other cancers and about important preventive actions.

(Gastroenterology 2011;141:80-9)

Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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