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Can Milk Thistle Help with Breast Cancer Treatment?

Milk Thistle: Nature’s Detox Plant

Since the dawn of time, several herbs and natural remedies have been used to detox our bodies, restore our health and make us immune to several possible diseases. That knowledge has been passed from generation to generation and now it’s grabbing the attention of modern medical service providers.

Scientific research proves the effects of those herbs and ancient remedies. Milk Thistle is one of those ancient research you can say, that is gaining popularity now. More people believe in its healing capacities, especially in liver health and cancer treatments.

Where do we get Milk Thistle?

Milk thistle is a flowering plant of the Mediterranean region; it is a relative of daisy and dandelion flowers. Some people also call it Mary thistle and holy thistle. Silymarin is a flavonoid obtained from milk thistle dried fruit. These two words mean the same product.

Scientific studies suggest that Silymarin has the ability to protect the liver from toxins; it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help maintain a healthy liver and protect it from medicine like Tylenol, which can cause liver damage when given in high doses. Milk Thistle can also assist the liver in repairing itself helping with new cell growth.

Today it’s available in the market in the form of Milk Thistle extract or Silymarin as a supplement or medicine. More scientific research suggests its various health benefits, including anticancer properties.

Is milk thistle good for breast cancer?

silymarin and silybin have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The compounds may help repair and prevent damage in cells, which is an important factor in many conditions — including cancer.

Silymarin may have roles in preventing cell damage leading to cancer and reducing side effects in healthy cells from cancer treatments.

For example, the compounds in milk thistle appear to counteract the toxic effects on the kidneys caused by some chemotherapy agents common in breast cancer treatment, such as cisplatin. This is important. These chemotherapy drugs are highly effective, but doctors currently need to limit their use due to these toxic effects.

Researchers also note that silymarin may have a synergistic effect with some anticancer drugs to help kill some types of cancer cells, including breast cancer cells. This could mean that it may have use as a potential pre-treatment before other therapies for cancer.

Milk thistle may also help reduce side effects from other cancer treatments. The National Cancer Institute (NCI)

Small human studies, applying a cream containing silymarin to the skin helps prevent rashes from radiation therapy in people with breast cancer.

Several publications have suggested the presence of Silibinin activity in breast cancer cell lines. The combination of Silibinin and cytostatic drugs was analyzed by Tyagi et al. [28] Combination of Silibinin and Carboplatin showed strong apoptotic effects in Michigan Cancer Foundation-7 (MCF-7) cells. However, this effect was not observed when Cisplatin was used. The combination of Silibinin and Doxorubicin resulted in higher rates of apoptotic death compared to each agent alone in the MCF-7 and MDA-MB468 cell lines [28]. 

Silymarin and Cancer: A Dual Strategy in Both in Chemoprevention and Chemosensitivity

Silymarin may play on the system of xenobiotics, metabolising enzymes (phase I and phase II) to protect normal cells against various toxic molecules or to protect against deleterious effects of chemotherapeutic agents on normal cells. Furthermore, silymarin and its main bioactive compounds inhibit organic anion transporters (OAT) and ATP-binding cassettes (ABC) transporters, thus contributing to counteracting potential chemoresistance. 

Silymarin and its derivatives play a double role, namely, limiting the progression of cancer cells through different phases of the cycle—thus forcing them to evolve towards a process of cell death—and accumulating cancer cells in a phase of the cell cycle—thus making it possible to target a greater number of tumour cells with a specific anticancer agent. Silymarin exerts a chemopreventive effect by inducing intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and reactivating cell death pathways by modulation of the ratio of proapoptotic/antiapoptotic proteins and synergizing with agonists of death domains receptors. In summary, silymarin may act as a chemopreventive agent and a chemosensitizer through multiple pathways.

How To Use Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle Extract is available on ZenOnco website as Milk Thistle capsules.

To know about how to take it, please connect with anti-cancer experts on ZenOnco.io. They will guide you on how to take this medicine. Alternatively, you can take 2 capsules per day after a meal. Though we strongly recommend you to connect with an expert before taking it.

Alternatively you can make Milk Thistle Tea at home. It’s available for purchase as loose or ground seeds and leaves or in tea bags.

Steep a tea bag or 1 teaspoon of loose tea in 1 cup (237 mL) of hot water for 5–10 minutes. If not using a tea bag, strain the tea before drinking it.


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