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Researchers from Annamalai University in Tamil Nadu have discovered that a chemical found in garlic can help fight adverse health effects caused by cadmium. The metal is a food contaminant and a major component of cigarette smoke. The studies, to be published in the April 2007 issue of International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, showed that diallyl tetrasulphide from garlic protected mitochondrial cells and reduced oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, an imbalance in production of reactive oxygen such as free radicals implicated in ageing and a biological systemâ€™s ability to remove them effectively, can permanently damage most components of the cell, including proteins, lipids and DNA. Cadmium is known to cause an increase in the production of reactive oxygen.
Good old garlic
A simple home remedy awaits millions of people in West Bengal and neighbouring Bangladesh who are affected by dangerously high levels of arsenic in drinking water. A team of researchers from Calcuttaâ€™s Indian Institute of Chemical Biology has found that garlic â€” Allium sativum, commonly used as a spice in several dishes â€” could help reduce arsenic levels in the body. The study by Keya Chaudhuri and her colleagues appears in a latest issue of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. The scientists found that rats â€” which were fed garlic extracts â€” had 40 per cent less arsenic in their blood and liver as the animals passed more than 45 per cent of the toxic material in their urine. They think that sulphur-containing substances in garlic do the trick as they scavenge arsenic from tissues and blood. People who eat one to three cloves of garlic daily can substantially reduce the health risk posed by arsenic, says Chaudhuri.