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Cancer Res. 1988 Dec 1;48(23):6872-5.

Chemoprevention of N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine-induced esophageal cancer in rats by the naturally occurring thioether, diallyl sulfide.

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Department of Medical Oncology, University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston 77030.


Diallyl sulfide (DAS) is a principal thioether of garlic (Allium sativum) accounting, in part, for the flavor and fragrance of this herb. Previous studies have shown that DAS is a potent inhibitor of experimentally induced colon cancer in mice. Metabolic studies of other garlic-derived substances suggested that DAS could prevent tumorigenicity of other hepatic activated carcinogens. The present study was designed to determine whether DAS could inhibit the DNA-damaging and tumorigenic effects of N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine in rat esophagus. A dose of 200 mg/kg of DAS given p.o. 3 h prior to N-nitrosomethylbenzylamine administration was found to inhibit the carcinogen-induced nuclear toxicity by 64% to 56% at the two doses (3 and 5 mg/kg) of NMBA tested. These results suggested that the compound was potentially anticarcinogenic. In the carcinogenicity experiment it was found that DAS totally inhibited tumor formation in rats treated with a carcinogenic dose of NMBA (100% inhibition of papilloma and squamous cell carcinoma incidence, P less than 0.0001). Additionally DAS was found to substantially reduce hepatic microsomal metabolism of the carcinogen. These data demonstrate that DAS is unique in its anticarcinogenic activity. It strongly suppresses the tumorigenic effects of potent, metabolically activated monoalkylating carcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract.

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