Protective effect of garlic in skin cancer

The incidence of cancer is rising in almost all parts of the world because of changes in the environment, changes in life style and food habits as well as due to growing industrialization and modernization. UV exposures from the sun in the exposed areas of the body are the prime locations of developing skin cancer. The rate of skin cancer is rising in an alarming rate and more than 10 million cases of skin cancer patients register each year for treatments. Epidemiological evidences demonstrate that naturally occurring phytochemicals are highly capable of inhibiting or delay the progression of several human carcinogenesis. Garlic and its major organosulfur components have acquired a special position in the medicinal history due to its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and fungicidal properties. Cancer chemoprevention using garlic as a dietary phytochemical is an active area of research and here we discuss the potential role of garlic and its components to inhibit, delay or reverse skin carcinogenesis. Both oral and topical application of various forms of garlic showed protection against chemical carcinogen induced skin papillomagenesis in mice. The protection occurs best when garlic was used in the diet prior to induction of skin papillomas by the carcinogens. Garlic inhibits the deleterious action of the carcinogens by downregulating lipid peroxides and at the same time upregulates several antioxidants, antioxidation enzymes and phase II detoxification enzymes. Garlic also downregulates COX-2, which is a marker of carcinogenesis progression. Garlic exerts its chemopreventive activities by modulating p53 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways as well as promotes ROS generation and apoptosis in the skin papilloma cells. Inclusion of garlic in regular diet will eliminate several physical abnormalities and will promote healthy lifestyle.