Friday, June 30, 2000

Researchers target garlic mystery

Scientists are to attempt to discover once and for all whether garlic does protect against heart disease and cancer.

If they can verify anecdotal evidence that garlic can protect against Europe's two biggest killers, they will then attempt to pin down the chemical process by which this is achieved.

For years there has been a widespread belief that garlic promotes good health. But, there is little scientific data to support these stories.

The new four-year, pan-European study will attempt to remedy this.

Most tests will be carried out on human cell cultures and animals.

However, some tests, for instance on how garlic is absorbed into the gut, will be carried out on volunteers.

Dr Brian Thomas, of the UK-based Horticulture Research International (HRI), will play a leading role in the study.

He said: "Once we can identify the compounds that help prevent these two diseases within the garlic plant, we can maximise their potential."

"We are focusing on the interaction between the sulphur compounds within the garlic and human cardiovascular disease and cancer.

"When we are able to pinpoint the specific sulphur compounds and the genes that are responsible, we should be in a position to breed new garlic plants that can provide the ingredients for high quality health care.'

Source BBC News


Hidden benefits for apple-eaters

There may be more reasons than simply vitamin C to eat an apple a day, according to researchers.

Scientists have examined the cancer-fighting potential of various chemicals found in the flesh and skin of the fruit.

And they have found that together, these chemicals have an effect which far outweighs that of taking only vitamin C.

The chemicals involved are called flavanoids and polyphenols, and the research study, published in Nature magazine, look at their combined "anti-oxidant" ability.

Anti-oxidants are thought to possibly protect from cancer by "mopping up" molecules responsible for cell damage, which can trigger the disease.

The researchers, from Cornell University in New York, found that eating just 100g of apple gave an anti-oxidant effect equivalent to taking some 1,500mg of vitamin C.

Source BBC News