Eating raw onion and garlic every day can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer, research suggests.
Scientists analyzed the dietary habits of more than 600 women in Puerto Rico, where the rates of the disease have risen in recent decades.
They discovered that those who ate more than one portion of the sofrito based on onion and garlic spices daily were 67 percent less likely to develop breast cancer.
However, consuming onions and garlic in a different form did not have the same benefits, the scientists found.
Eating raw onion and garlic every day can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer (stock)
Sofrito recipes vary, but it usually consists of raw onions and garlic, in addition to tomatoes, peppers, and coriander.
Eating onions and garlic raw can be the key, with previous studies suggesting that their anti-cancer antioxidants are destroyed when heated.
The study was conducted by the University of Buffalo (UB) and the University of Puerto Rico.
One in eight women in the US and the UK will develop breast cancer at some point in her life, statistics show. Men can also get the disease.
In Puerto Rico, the incidence of the disease increased from 18 cases per 100,000 women in the 1960s to 50 per 100,000 in the 1990s, the scientists wrote in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
Although emerging in Puerto Rico, breast cancer is still more common in the US. For every 100,000 American women, 127.5 develops the disease every year, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
& # 39; There is very little breast cancer research in Puerto Rico, & # 39; said study author Dr. Jo Freudenheim, of UB.
& # 39; This study was … to help us understand why the rates there are lower than in the rest of the US.
& # 39; And why rates continue to rise there while falling in the rest of the United States. & # 39;
Studies have suggested that eating lots of onions and garlic reduces the risk of lung, prostate, and stomach cancers.
However, little was known about how basic ingredients influence a woman's chances of having breast cancer.
To find out more, the scientists analyzed women who participated in The Atabey Study of Breast Cancer in Puerto Rico between November 2008 and June 2014.
Of the participants, 314 had fought the disease, while 346 controls had never had malignant tumors, apart from a few cases of non-melanoma skin cancer.
All women, aged 30 to 79, completed a food questionnaire that inquired about their consumption of onion and garlic in the past year.
It also specifically asked how often they eat sofrito, which is widely used in Puerto Rican cuisine.
Results revealed while there was a & # 39; trend toward a lower risk of breast cancer & # 39; was with increased consumption of onions and garlic, it was not statistically significant.
However, the women who consumed sofrito every day were found to run considerably less risk.
Onions and garlic are members of the allium plant family, along with leeks and chives.
Animal and cell studies in the laboratory have shown exposure to the allium compounds dialyldisulfide and S-allyl mercaptocysteine prevents cells from dividing uncontrollably.
Quercetin, an antioxidant in onions, suppresses a mutant protein in breast cancer, according to previous studies. And allicin, a compound in garlic, inhibits uncontrolled cell division.
However, these antioxidants are & # 39; significantly reduced when heated at 100 ° C (212 ° F) for 40-60 minutes & # 39 ;, the scientists wrote.
And just one minute of microwave garlic & # 39; blocks the ability to inhibit a known carcinogen in rat milk cell DNA & # 39 ;, she added.
However, the scientists emphasize that their research was small, with only 12 of the participants who never ate onion, garlic or sofrito.
With spice recipes that vary, it is also not possible to quantify how much onion or garlic must be consumed to reap the benefits.
The sauce is also composed of other vegetables and fresh products, which can work together to reduce the risk of breast cancer in a woman.
WHAT IS BREAST CANCER, HOW MANY PEOPLE FIND IT AND WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Every year there are more than 55,000 new cases in the UK and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it hits 266,000 each year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?
What is breast cancer?
Breast cancer originates from a cancer cell that develops in the mucosa of a duct or lobule in one of the breasts.
When breast cancer has spread into the surrounding breast tissue, it becomes an & # 39; invasive & # 39; called breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with & # 39; carcinoma in situ & # 39; with no cancer cells growing beyond the canal or the lobes.
Most cases develop in women older than 50 years, but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can develop in men, although this is rare.
The cancer cells are classified from phase one, which means slow growth, to phase four, which is the most aggressive.
What causes breast cancer?
A cancerous tumor starts with one abnormal cell. The exact reason why a cell becomes cancer is unclear. It is thought that something damages or changes certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiplies & # 39; out of control & # 39 ;.
Although breast cancer can develop for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer, such as genetics.
What are the symptoms of breast cancer?
The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid-filled cysts that are benign.
The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this happens, you will get a swelling or lump in the armpit.
How is breast cancer diagnosed?
- First assessment: a doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They can perform tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue that may indicate the possibility of tumors.
- Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined under the microscope to search for abnormal cells. The sample can confirm or exclude cancer.
If it is confirmed that you have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess whether it has spread. For example, blood tests, an ultrasound scan of the liver or an X-ray of the breast.
How is breast cancer treated?
Treatment options that can be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. A combination of two or more of these treatments is often used.
- Surgery: breast-conserving surgery or removal of the affected breast, depending on the size of the tumor.
- Radiotherapy: a treatment that uses high-energy radiation beams, aimed at cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells or prevents cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
- Chemotherapy: a treatment for cancer by using anti-cancer drugs that kill cancer cells or prevent them from multiplying
- Hormone treatments: some types of breast cancer are influenced by the & # 39; female & # 39; hormone estrogen, which can stimulate cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments that lower the level of these hormones or prevent them from working are often used in people with breast cancer.
How successful is a treatment?
The outlook is best for those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumor at an early stage can then give a good chance of a cure.
The routine mammography that is offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 means that more breast cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage.
For more information visit breastcancercare.org.uk or www.cancerhelp.org.uk
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