How Milk Thistle Can Help Fight Cancer

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Milk thistle cancer benefits

Widely regarded as a therapeutic agent, the wonder herb milk thistle has been used for centuries in the management of liver diseases. Today, it is one of the most common herbal supplements available and is used in the management of several other conditions including cancers. A growing body of research has shown that milk thistle has the potential to interfere with cancer growth regardless of its location in the body. Over the past few years, positive results of milk thistle preventing, slowing or reversing cancer in a variety of different tissue types have been published in peer-reviewed, respected medical journals. In this article, we will learn more about the milk thistle cancer fighting benefits and its potential to protect against cancer as well as treat it.

Commonly known as milk thistle, Silybum marianum is a herb with a long history of being used as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of liver and gallbladder problems. Silymarin, a flavonoid is the active component of milk thistle and have been demonstrated to have the ability to protect liver cells from toxins, viruses, and alcohol, strengthen the perimeter of liver cell membranes, and support the growth of new liver cells.

Milk Thistle Cancer Fighting:

Usually, the body tends to maintain a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that new cells can be produced only when required. Disruptions of these checks and balances can result in an abnormal reproduction of cells (usually uncontrolled cell division and proliferation of cells). This leads to the formation of tumors. Milk thistle has been shown to prevent these disruptions and prevent carcinogenic cellular proliferation. While no individual physician, organization or research collective has endorsed milk thistle for cancer treatment, several studies have been conducted to evaluate how effective it is on various types of cancers.

Liver cancer

A study published in the journal the World Journal of Gastroenterology in October 2007 in which researchers investigated the effects and mechanisms of silibinin (the most active constituent of silymarin) on the growth of the most common type of liver cancer showed that silibinin exhibited potent anti-cancer effects.

Cervical Cancer

A study published in the journal the Cell Biochemistry and Function in April 2012 in which researchers investigated the effects and mechanisms of silibinin (the most active constituent of silymarin) on the human cervical cancer cell cycle showed a dose-dependent relationship between cervical cancer cell death and silibinin, prompting the demand for consideration of silibinin as a preventative and intervention strategy for cervical cancer.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

A study published in the journal the Cancer in January 2010 in which researchers investigated the use of milk thistle for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia with chemotherapy-related hepatotoxicity showed that milk thistle supported a decrease in the harmful effects of chemotherapy on the liver without working against the cancer treatment.

Pancreatic Cancer

A study published in the journal the International Journal of Molecular Sciences in August 2011 in which researchers investigated if silibinin could inhibit pancreatic cancer growth showed that silibinin effectively inhibited several pancreatic cancer cell lines.

While only a few case studies have been pointed out in the article, there are several other studies that have shown the anti-carcinogenic properties of milk thistle. There are limited studies as concerns the appropriate dosage of milk thistle supplements for the management of cancers. It is recommended that you consult your doctor before you can make any changes to your treatment regimen.


Milk thistle herb protects cancer patients from chemotherapy-associated liver toxicity. (2018, 24). Retrieved from

Milk thistle | Cancer in general | Cancer Research UK. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Milk Thistle’s Potential Beneficial Role Against Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Siegel, A. B., & Stebbing, J. (2013). Milk thistle: early seeds of potential. The Lancet Oncology, 14(10), 929-930. doi:10.1016/s1470-2045(13)70414-5


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