Women who take multivitamins early in pregnancy sharply reduce the risk of giving birth to a baby with spina bifida. A study of 23,000 women published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that those who had taken vitamins containing folic acid had one fourth the incidence of neural tube defects in their babies of those who had taken nothing.
The French may be onto something: At the First World Congress on the Health Significance of Garlic, numerous nutritional specialists described what appear to be the astonishing beneficial effects of this ignoble bulb everything from lowering cholesterol levels to slowing malignant cell growth.Some reported studies showed that cancers in the liver of rates were inhibited when the cells were treated with garlic extract.
In others, 6 to l0 grams of garlic given daily to patients with histories of heart attacks reduced their chances of dying or suffering further attacks and also reduced their cholesterol levels.
William J. Blot, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute described seven epidemiological investigations showing that the risk of stomach cancer is reduced depending on the amount of allium vegetables (garlic, onions, leeks, spring onions and shallots) consumed. Almost all the studies, said Blot, "show some decrease in risk of stomach cancer associated with high intake of allium vegetables."
This protective effect is hardly mysterious: when garlic is cooked or crushed, a substance called "allicin" is released, which produces more than 70 sulphur bearing compounds after reacting with oxygen. It is these substances which are thought to have medicinal effects.