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Milk thistle compound prevents lung cancer in mice

By Sue Mueller

Jun 27, 2006,

June 27 (foodconsumer.org) - A new compound, named Silibinin derived from milk thistle, may effectively destroy lung cancer in humans, suggests a new animal study published in the June 21 issue of Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study found that mice fed a diet containing silibinin had few large tumors in the lungs of mice compared to mice fed a diet without the compound.

Silibinin used in the study was purchased from Sigma Chemical Co. It did not come from milk thistle.

For the study, researchers from the University of Colorado Denver injected a chemical called urethane in mice to induce lung cancer and then started to feed the mice a diet containing silibinin.

The researchers have been studing milk thistle compounds such as silymarin and silibinin for over a decade, Reuters reported.

Researchers hope to start clinical trials soon to assess the efficacy and safety of this compound. According to Reuters, trials of this compound on prostate cancer have been already underway.

Early studies have found that silymarin has strong antioxidant properties and has been shown to inhibit the in-vitro growth of human prostate, breast, and cervical cancer cells.

Milk thistle as a dietary supplement is used mainly as a detoxification agent to help liver problems caused by viruses and a lcohol. But its anticancer effects are also well known to many people.

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  • 3 months later...

I meet a woman tonight that has liver cancer. She was told 5% chance, 3-6 months. She swears by milk thistle. Said her white cells have never been below 4. Been through everything they can threw at her. Waiting for a new chemo in 4 weeks. Still alive after 3 years. One in hospice. They finally threw her out. Talk about will power. This woman is a walking inspiration to us all. Hugs, kisses and prayers, Liz

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  • 4 weeks later...

I didn't wait. When I first heard about Silibinin a few months ago from Life Extension Magazine I ordered 4 bottles to get 1 month and 1/2 supply for about $22. http://lef.org (266mg per capsule)

Conclusions: "Silibinin inhibits lung tumor angiogenesis in an animal model and merits investigation as a chemopreventive agent for suppressing lung cancer progression"

Research has shown it to cut off the blood supply to cancer tumors.

In addition it offers good liver support. Most medications are modified or degraded in the liver and there are a lot of pills and toxins in cancer therapy.


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We had Tony on milk thistle during his "chemo holiday" and his cancer significantly progressed. I had read the same article that Randy posted and concluded that the compound researchers used must have been in higher concentrations, etc. than what is commercially available via milk thistle.

The real downside to this was that Tony thought that it would work for him and keep the cancer stable. The disappointment in his face when we received the progression news was heartbreaking. As a caretaker I now realize that I have to be very careful in what I introduce as alternative/supportive supplements. I knew that it would be a longshot, but I guess he thought otherwise. Another lesson learned on our journey through lung cancerland.

On the plus side, I began taking the leftover milk thistle when he moved onto another chemo regimen due to my having a "fatty liver" (aaarghhh, what a name!). Runs in the family. My pain in my side has subsided significantly and I'll be buying more milk thistle for my own liver use. Maybe I'll buy double to help with his liver function while on Tarceva also.

Just another perspective.


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Hello Welthy,

You're correct about the concentration of Silibinin. Pure Silibinin is not the same as Pure Milk Thistle. Below is an excerpt from the study:

"It should be stressed that the new research, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute [June 2006](Vol. 98, pp. 846-85), did not use milk thistle dietary supplements, but pure silibinin, the active component in milk thistle.

“Milk thistle extract dietary supplements generally contain 80 per cent silymarin, a flavonolignan mixture; and silymarin contains approximately 40 per cent silibinin,” explained [lead researcher Rana]Singh.

“Therefore, we expect about 32 per cent (w/w) silibinin in milk thistle dietary supplements,” he said. [End of excerpt]

If you were using a milk thistle product rated at 600mg (which is about as high as you can buy) you would only be getting about 180mg of Silibinin. The product I buy contains 266mg of pure Silibinin extract and 60 mg of Silymarin extract which also contains some Silibinin.

Silimarin and Silibinin are both extracts from Milk Thistle.

What dosage have you been buying just for reference?

B.T.W. This is only one of 12 herbal and dietary supplements taken twice daily at our house. So I guess we could never judge any one product as not working and that's a good thing I guess.


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