BENGALURU: A recent study has found that garlic intake may reduce risk of gastric cancer. But scientists say further studies are required to assess the quantity of garlic that needs to be consumed for the protective effect.
The study, the results of which were published in the science journal Nutrition and Cancer, included randomised control trials (RCT) in which participants are randomly assigned forms of treatment, as well as cohort studies, which largely study lifestyles. RCTs are generally considered the gold standard for clinical trials.
Dr Vijay Kumar, former director of Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, says, “These studies must include a follow-up after 20 to 30 years. Otherwise, it is difficult to draw conclusions. The same studies must be reproducible in another region of the world. The recommendatory power of such studies depends on the level of evidence in cancer treatment. A randomised control study has more power than a cohort study. Garlic may have protective effects, but eating garlic may not ensure that one will never get gastric cancer.”
The study was undertaken by scientists at the Whiteley-Martin Research Centre, Discipline of Surgery, University of Sydney, Sydney Medical School, Australia.
According to Dr Jagannath Dixit, a gastrointestinal oncologist with HCG Healthcare Global, those with indigestion problems after the age of 40 must undergo endoscopy. “Ulcers are checked with biopsy. Heliobacter pylori (a bacterium) can cause gastric cancer. It can be treated with antacids and antibiotics,” he explains.
Of late, there has been an increase in cancers at the food pipe-stomach junction. These are aggressive tumours seen in young individuals with bad lifestyles and people who smoke and drink, he says. “Sporadic cases are also seen (in those who don’t smoke). These cases are genetic. Tumours tend to spread fast. Unless detected early, they are incurable.”
He says in Bengaluru, stomach cancer is the second most common form of fatal cancer among men. Among women, it is the third biggest cause. About 10-15 in every 1,000 get gastric cancer. A study conducted in Karnataka had put gastric cancer among the five most common cancers among young Indians (aged 15-44).
It is estimated that the number of gastric cancers in the country is about 34,000 annually, with a male predominance ratio of 2:1. By 2020, the number could hit 50,000.