Is milk thistle effective in cancer treatment?
Milk thistle extract, an herbal remedy since the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, is today one of the most popular herbal supplements, with U.S. retail sales of nearly nine million dollars.
The current issue of Integrative Cancer Therapies (ICT) published by SAGE, contains a summary of current research on and clinical application of silymarin, the mixture of chemicals found in milk thistle. The special issue features new research from Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center finding liver-protective effects for silymarin in children receiving cancer chemotherapy. Guest edited by Drs. Kara Kelly, Janice Post-White, and Elena Ladas, the issue covers the entire scope of milk thistle use in cancer treatment, as well as in fighting other diseases like hepatitis C, diabetes, and HIV, reporting on such subjects as:
- Recent advances in the use of milk thistle
- Clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of milk thistle
- The molecular makeup of silymarin
- Benefits of silymarin use before and during toxic insults to the liver, including damage from alcohol; cancer chemotherapy and other drugs; solvents; and mushroom poisoning
- Direction for future research on milk thistle for cancer patients
"This special issue presents both preclinical and clinical studies demonstrating the potential role of milk thistle as an anticancer agent. No other medications or supplements are currently available that preserve liver function and provide clinical benefits," write the guest editors in their opening editorial.
"The clinical potential for a liver-protective supplement in cancer care is significant, as I've observed in many years of integrative medical practice," writes Dr. Keith Block, ICT editor. "Several chemotherapy drugs, as well as many of the other drugs cancer patients take, have extremely problematic liver toxicities. With this exclusive edition, the scientific community will have a resource to guide and inspire further research on this very interesting herbal medicine."