Dena Schmidt – The compound silibinin, a flavonoid in milk thistle, has shown extremely promising activity against human liver cancer, according to University of California, Irvine researchers.
Both silibinin and silymarin are highly bioactive milk thistle compounds that are already linked with offering protection for the liver against damage from alcohol and drug use. Now silibinin is showing promise in protecting against a number of cancer types, including liver cancer.
Liver cancer cases have tripled in the U.S. since 1980
For the study, human cells were treated with the milk thistle extract silibinin at different doses. Its substantial anticancer effects were linked with several specific processes. These included suppressing the cell cycle of cancer cells, reduction of the cellular proliferation of cancer and increasing apoptosis (cancer cell death).
Silibinin has also shown promise against breast, prostate, lung, colon, bladder and ovarian cancers. Milk thistle has previously been linked with protecting against nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and the hepatitis C virus.
An amazing fact: The liver is the largest internal organ and critical to all of the body’s processes and functioning. It performs over 500 life-sustaining actions for the body, including those related to the neutralization of toxins.
Unfortunately, liver cancer is on the rise in the U.S. (largely due to poor lifestyle choices), with around 40,000 new cases reported per year. This is triple the amount of cases that were reported in 1980. No doubt, the silibinin extract from milk thistle could offer protection against this rising rate of liver cancer.
Milk thistle helps offset the hazards of a typical Western diet
As the liver does its job of detoxifying the body, milk thistle seems to have the effect of shielding liver cells from free radicals, processed sugars, toxic fats and other compounds that can cause many liver health issues.
The ‘Standard American Diet’ (SAD) offers too many refined sugars, toxic additives like MSG, unhealthy fats – loaded with unwanted chemicals and synthetic hormones and other processed foods (that don’t even deserve to be labeled as ‘food’). Clearly, these low-quality foods are largely to blame for the increase in liver problems throughout the country.
Even before doctors tend to diagnose a ‘liver problem,’ unhealthy diets can easily trigger metabolic syndrome – which is characterized by excess body weight (obesity), blood sugar imbalances (prediabetes and diabetes), hypertension and elevated blood fats. All of these conditions eventually lead to a breakdown of the cardiovascular system and many forms of cancer.
Of course, metabolic syndrome (if left untreated) can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and a general weakening of the liver – which directly leads to an increased risk of liver cancer.
Take milk thistle to avoid liver cancer and support your liver health
Milk thistle and the compounds it contains offer multi-faceted protection for the liver against a range of stresses. Taking milk thistle allows the liver to do its job more efficiently and bounce back from exposure to toxins such as unhealthy food and alcohol.
Many of the liver studies done in recent years have involved animals or petri dishes, so it’s hard to glean information about ideal dosage. However, according to many integrative healthcare providers, consumption of milk thistle – as a nutritional supplement – is generally recommended at 420 mg/day in divided doses.
This dosage is considered safe for at least 41 months based upon clinical data. However, higher doses of milk thistle have also been used in clinical trials.
Final thought: If you have liver issues or would like to be proactive about liver health, consider asking an experienced medical professional about adding milk thistle to your supplement routine.