We blogged last week about bad nutrition from Science: So What? So Everything – a science communication initiative ran by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. I was disappointed to find more on their website: this time, a poor discussion of the evidence re garlic and cancer. Science: So What state that
recent studies have shown that our love of garlic may also be good for our health.
A study published in the medical journal Carcinogenesis in 2008 showed that garlic-derived substances had an effect on colon cancer cells. An earlier study in 1987 performed on mice showed that diallyl sulphide, a chemical that helps to give garlic its delicious flavour, may inhibit the growth of a certain types of colon cancer.
However, while I cannot access the full 2008 study, the abstract is clear that the study found that
Diallyl sulfide, a thioether found naturally in garlic, when given by gavage to C57BL/6J mice inhibited by 74% the incidence and reduced the frequency of colorectal adeno carcinoma induced by 20 weekly injections of 1,2-dimethyl-hydrazine. This result was predicted from a short-term assay measuring defects in nuclear morphology in mouse colon epithelial cells.
Results in mice may, of course, not necessarily reflect results in humans – and Science: So What should have made explicit the nature of this 2008 study (as they did with the 1987 study).
This way is not good science communication from Science: So What. In fact, the way in which Science: So What reports the 2008 study is considerably less clear and precise than the way in which the authors reported their results – not exactly what one would hope for from science communication!