Silymarin (Milk Thistle) can revoke liver enzyme changes during chemotherapy of breast cancer with Taxanes



Drug associated liver injury is common and anticancer agents have been associated with inducing liver dysfunction, too. The present study was designed to evaluate the effect of silymarin (Milk Thistle) in reducing the hepatic side effects of taxane when used in chemotherapy of breast cancer.

This study was conducted on 99 patients with invasive breast carcinoma receiving chemotherapy contained adriamycin, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, docetaxel, and paclitaxel. The patients were randomized into 2 groups and given silymarin 70 mg PO three times daily or placebo during their treatment course. The patients were assessed by liver function tests (LFT) after each dose of taxane and results were analyzed statistically.

The patients had mild rises in serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT), serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminases (SGPT), and bilirubin in both groups during the study. However, the changes were less notable in the study group. The differences were statistically significant for rises in SGOT and SGPT (23.3 ± 2.3 vs. 1.7 ± 1.5 for SGOT and 27.8 ± 0.6 vs. 23.7 ± 0.3 for SGPT in the control and case groups respectively).

There was a rise in some of the LFT indices after the chemotherapy, with more than 2-fold rise in SGOT, SGPT, and bilirubin which indicated liver injury. The addition of silymarin alleviated these effects considerably.


Silymarin has been used around the world for centuries as a liver tonic. It protects the liver and restores liver function. It is still used extensively today by complimentary medicine practitioners and Integrative Medical Doctors.  It is encouraging to see that Silymarin can benefit breast cancer patients during Chemotherapy treatment and  Silymarin does not show any significant effect on CYP450 enzymes which makes it ideal for use with Chemo agents

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