Garlic, they think, is good for you. And that was the consensus in Washington at the First World Garlic Congress, where 40 scientists from 15 countries delivered papers on garlic-related health research, including studies that suggest that garlic may inhibit cancer, reduce cholesterol levels and fight heart disease.

There’s nothing new to claims that garlic has mysterious medical properties. For 3,000 years, it has been promoted as a cure for everything from smallpox to a snake bite, as well as odoriferous charm that wards off everything from germs to werewolves.

“We have a history of garlic folklore to review to find out what is scientifically credible. And while it isn’t a cure-all, there is incredibly exciting research that places new emphasis on garlic’s importance,” said John Milner, chairman of the nutrition department at Pennsylvania State University’s College of Health and Human Development.

Milner is studying garlic as a possible inhibitor of breast cancer. After feeding lab rats substantial quantities of garlic, Milner found as much as a 70 percent reduction in the number of mammary tumors.

Garlic research is sprawling in every direction. For instance, scientists at the government laboratories in Los Alamos, N.M., got a patent this spring for a plastic, modeled after compounds found in garlic, that can be used in implants. The theory is that blood platelets won’t coagulate around an artificial heart valve made of garlic- like plastic, because garlic acts as an anti-clotting agent.

Yu-Yan Yeh, a nutrition researcher at Penn State, has found that garlic appears to lower blood lipids, which reduce- cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Vol 9 Issue 3 Page 5

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