A urine test that can simultaneously measure the extent of a potential carcinogenic process and a marker of garlic consumption in humans has been designed.
In a small pilot study, the test suggested that the more garlic people consumed, the lower the levels of the potential carcinogenic process were.
The research is all about body processes associated with nitrogen-containing compounds, scientists say. These processes include nitrosation, or the conversion of some substances found in foods or contaminated water into carcinogens.
"What we were after was developing a method where we could measure in urine two different compounds, one related to the risk for cancer, and the other, which indicates the extent of consumption of garlic," said Earl Harrison, Dean's Distinguished Professor of Human Nutrition at Ohio State, an investigator in Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, and senior author of the study.
"Our results showed that those were inversely related to one another - meaning that the more we had the marker for garlic consumption, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer."
Ultimately, the scientists hope to find that a nutritional intervention could be a way to stop the process that develops these carcinogens. This process is most commonly initiated by exposure to substances called nitrates from certain processed meats or high-heat food preparation practices, or to water contaminated by industry or agricultural runoff.
The study is published in a recent issue of the journal Analytical Biochemistry.