Recently, scientists demonstrated the anti-cancer effects of silibinin, a major biologically active compound of milk thistle. Being widely used as a folk remedy for liver diseases, milk thistle is safe and well-tolerated, and it protects the liver from drug or alcohol-related injury. Silibinin is highly purified from milk thistle, with a defined chemical structure and molecular weight (C25H22O10, MW: 482.44).
The study was carried out by Dr. Ke-Qin Hu and his research team at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Hu is a well-experienced research scientist and physician in the field of hepatology. He has published over 70 scientific articles in various medical professional journals. Many of his scientific research publications are focused on viral hepatitis B and C, cirrhosis, and liver cancer, all of which have significantly contributed to our better understanding of common liver diseases.
Dr. Hu and his colleagues' discovery of silibilin's anti-liver cancer effects was recently published.*
The researchers found that silibilin can significantly reduce the growth of several human hepatoma cell lines. In addition, they demonstrated that silibinin mediates anti-liver cancer effects by:
- reduced cancer cell proliferation and cell cycle progression;
- enhanced programmed death of cancer cells; and
- altered chromatin structure of the cancer cells.
Their research results indicate that silibinin can be used to prevent the development of liver cancer, one of the most common cancers worldwide. The results have also opened our minds to the possibility of testing other herbal supplements for possible treatment of human cancers.
*Journal reference: Lah JJ, Cui W, Hu KQ. Effects and mechanisms of silibinin on human hepatoma cell lines. World J Gastroenterol 2007; 13(40): 5299-5305
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