London: Eating raw garlic twice a week can nearly halve the risk of developing lung cancer, even lowering the danger for smokers, a new study has claimed.
Chinese researchers found that those who consumed raw garlic as part of their diet were 44 per cent less likely to suffer the disease.
Even when they allowed for whether people smoked - the biggest single cause of lung cancer, the scientists found garlic still seemed to reduce the dangers by around 30 per cent, the `Telegraph` reported.
Previous research has suggested that the popular herb can ward off stomach cancer and colon cancer, and a study at the University of South Australia suggested that it could reduce the risk of bowel tumours by nearly a third.
Scientists at Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention compared 1,424 lung cancer patients with 4,500 healthy adults.
They found that those who ate raw garlic at least twice a week were significantly less likely to get lung cancer, even if they smoked or were exposed to high-temperature cooking oil fumes, which is thought to be another trigger for the disease.
The key ingredient behind this effect seems to be a chemical called allicin, released when the clove is crushed or chopped, according to previous studies.
It is thought to dampen down inflammation in the body and act as an anti-oxidant, reducing damage from so-called free radicals to the body`s cells.
However, it is not clear whether cooked garlic would have the same effect.
"Garlic may potentially serve as a preventive agent for lung cancer," researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research.