The anticancer effects of milk thistle

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

stop cancer sign(NaturalHealth365) In yet another well-established study review, milk thistle shines for its powerful cancer-suppressing activity. In 2013, researchers uncovered the chemo-preventive and anti-cancer activity of milk thistle when used alone and along with other medicinal agents against lung cancer. Not only does milk thistle exert activity through inhibiting proliferation and angiogenesis, but also in response to epigenetic-influences – making it an anti-cancer super star.

Silymarin, found in the seeds of milk thistle is known for its significant ability to detoxify and protect the body against environmental toxins. While many associate it as “the” go-to liver detoxifier, milk thistle is increasingly being recognized as an anti-cancer powerhouse that fights against many cancer cell types such as prostate, breast, cervical, ovarian, colon, lung, liver and skin.

How does milk thistle exerts its anti-cancer activity?

Silybinin a non-toxic flavonoid, found in silymarin extracts has been pointed out in most major studies as the effective therapeutic constituent against modern diseases and environmental toxins. During in vivo studies, milk thistle exhibited antiproliferative effects on MCF-7 breast cancer cells.

This is especially noteworthy because most pharmaceutical preparations used would not only eradicate MCF-7 breast cancer cells, but also non-selectively lead to cell death of otherwise healthy cells. Unlike toxic cancer medications, milk thistle is selective, extremely cost effective and can indirectly strengthen the immune system – making it a very attractive alternative to what the pharmaceutical industry considers ‘standard’ treatment.

In another significant study at University of California, Irvine, Dr. Ke-Qin Hu’s findings matched those mentioned above, but highlighted liver cancer. The effects of milk thistle against liver cancer were significant and even showed its ability to reduce cancer cell cycle speed. Their research concluded that milk thistle can be used confidently as a preventive against liver cancer – one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide.

Milk thistle metabolizes cancer-influencing hormones

We live in an estrogenic society – xenoestrogens, estrogen-like compounds leach from plastics that we use for food and drink; GMO soy, that is used as a filler in many commercial foods and hormones that have been pumped into our dairy and meat products.

When we consume these we take on the body-burden of excessive, non-essential hormones that have no choice but to build up at estrogen receptor sites. While this type of estrogenic activity has been associated with certain reproductive cancers, intervening with a therapeutically prescribed dosage of milk thistle extract metabolizes excessive amounts, filtering potentially cancer-causing hormonal “residue” from the body.

How do I choose the right milk thistle?

Look for an extract that has been standardized to contain the active constituents, (silymarin and silybinin) found in studies to exert biological activity against toxins for milk thistle to be effective. If you have been prescribed any anti-cancer medications, seek the advice of an experienced integrative practitioner to help you incorporate milk thistle into your program before beginning use.

About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, epigenetics, food therapy and sustainable living.


Gain INSTANT Access:

  • » Vaccine World Summit
  • » 7-Day Juice Cleanse
  • » FREE Newsletter

Keep Reading:

  • Nurse Lori

    Milk Thistle is an herbal supplement that detoxifies and protects the liver. There is research, which shows it can decrease sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels. It is especially helpful for people who are type 2 diabetics because it has been shown to improve insulin resistance.

    Milk Thistle has been used for thousands of years and has a good safety record.

  • Mark Klien

    Milk Thistle is a mild laxative due to its ability to increase bile flow. It helps keep the gallbladder in good working order. By adding milk thistle to your diet you can reduce your chance of developing gallbladder disorders.

    It seems that milk thistle not only has anti cancer-activity, but also helps with elimination and detoxification.

  • Nick Wyatt

    There is some evidence, which shows that milk thistle may protect the liver from an overdose of acetaminophen (Tylenol), alcohol and other drugs. In Europe milk thistle is administrated to counter medications known to cause liver problems.

    This is one herb that needs more attention from the media. There are enough studies, which show how effective milk thistle is in preventing and treating all the conditions talked about in the article and comment section.

  • Tina

    If one has overdosed on Tylenol, I don’t think milk thistle should be the first choice. You need intervenous infusion of NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) fast and be prepared for around 48 hours of this treatment in the ER. This is an emergency situation.

  • Nick Wyatt

    Tina, I agree that medical treatment is needed in the case of an overdose. However, an apparent overdose is not the norm. Most likely it is a case of someone taking what is considered a normal and prudent dose and still having their liver function compromised.
    Most people aren’t aware the normal dose is too high for their systems. Another factor is the amount of time Tylenor is used. People pop all over the counter pills without much thought and this is dangerous.
    The type of situation that i am talking about milk thistle may be more of a way to protect the liver from the chronic use of Tylenol.

  • roundthings

    Schizandra works on both detox pathways so I recommend adding this also if taking milk thistle