By Dr. Francisco Contreras

Silymarin is a disease-fighting agent derived from milk thistle. Several studies have shown that silymarin is a very strong antioxidant, capable of scavenging both free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which results in a boost to cellular defense mechanisms.

For the last twenty years, scientific researchers have also been studying the cancer chemo-preventive and anti-carcinogenic effects of silymarin.

These studies have shown that silymarin has exceptional protection against cancers of the skin, prostate, breast, lung, colon, and bladder. Silymarin can also significantly inhibit the growth of existing cancer as well. Recent studies have shown this inhibitory effect; researchers have concluded that silymarin can be an effective agent for both prevention and intervention. So how does it work?

One of the marks of cancer cells is the reckless abandon with which they reproduce. Silymarin inhibits this proliferation and alters the cell cycle progression in various types of cancer. When this happens, the cancer cells begin to suffer substantial apoptotic, or “programmed,” death.  The interruption to the cell cycle helps the body differentiate between healthy cells and cancer cells, thus enabling the body’s immune system to target the cancer more effectively.