Eating garlic could help patients defeat brain cancer, according to research by three scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

The team found that three types of organo-sulfur compounds proved effective in treating glioblastoma, a type of deadly brain cancer. Their study will be published in the September Issue of “Cancer,” the journal published by the American Cancer Society.

Swapan Ray, Naren Banik and Arabinda Das conducted the research. Ray and Banik are professors at MUSC. Das is a post-doctoral fellow.

The team examined three compounds called DAS, DADS and DATS, with DATS proving to be the most effective.

According to the researchers, the garlic compounds killed the brain cancer cells by producing reactions that capitalized on the cells’ high metabolism and need for oxygen.

"This research highlights the great promise of plant-originated compounds as natural medicine for controlling the malignant growth of human brain tumor cells," Ray said in a statement. "More studies are needed in animal models of brain tumors before application of this therapeutic strategy to brain tumor patients."

People wishing to capitalize immediately on garlic’s anti-cancer benefits by consuming garlic should follow certain steps, Ray said. First, users should peel a piece of fresh garlic. Second, let it sit for 15 minutes before cooking or eating so that an enzyme (allinase) in the garlic that produces the anti-cancer compounds can be released.

However, patient care at clinics including garlic are years away.

"Our basic studies will eventually be translated to clinics for patient care,” Banik said. “We may have to wait several years before its application to humans, but the significance of this discovery is enormous.

"The benefits from this research to brain cancer patients will bring great satisfaction to researchers and clinicians who are trying to find a successful treatment for this devastating cancer,” he added.