You might not believe it from the weather in recent weeks, but it’s almost time to step back onto the golf course, beach, or into the garden. And while sunshine in moderation is very good for you, extreme exposure can lead to concerns. Like a higher risk of UV-induced skin cancer.
Not to worry. New research shows that protection may come in the form of a flower extract.
Dr. Rajesh Agarwal from the University of Colorado has spent the past 20 years studying the effects of this compound. And with great success. In two separate studies he found the compound protects against certain forms of skin cancer.
In the first study published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology, Dr. Agarwal and his team treated UVA-affected cells with the compound.1 UVA radiation makes up 95 percent of the sun’s radiation.
When researchers exposed the damaged cells to the compound, the rate at which the cells died increased significantly. When damaged cells die, the risk of cancer goes down.
“When you have a cell affected by UV radiation, you either want to repair it or kill it so that it cannot go on to cause cancer,” said Dr. Agarwal.
Researchers also found that the compound only killed the mutated cells. It left healthy cells intact, meaning it’s not toxic. You can’t say the same about other treatments like radiation and chemo.2 And surgery can be painful and leave scars.
So what extract has Dr. Agarwal spent so much time studying to keep your skin cancer-free?
In Dr. Agarwal’s second study, he found milk thistle reversed DNA damage caused by UVB radiation.3 Specifically, it protected and repaired skin cells.
Milk thistle works on both fronts in protecting skin. With UVA, it kills; with UVB, it protects.
It is proving to offer complete UV protection.
Milk thistle may sound familiar. We recently reported that it provides protection against lung cancer.4 It has a long list of benefits… It protects the liver, lowers cholesterol, and5 also helps treat indigestion and gallbladder disorders.6 And if that wasn’t enough… It has been used to reduce breast, cervical, and prostate cancer cell growth.7
Milk thistle is part of the daisy family, native to the Mediterranean region. It’s been used for thousands of years to treat ailments. Modern research just keeps on proving why.
“We first noticed its effectiveness in treating both skin and solid cancers,” said Dr. Agarwal. “And we now have a much more complete picture of the mechanisms that allow this compound to work.”
Dr. Agarwal plans to continue his 20 years of research on milk thistle. He wants to move on to human trials.
In the meantime, you can get out and enjoy some extra rays with this herb on your side.
You can buy milk thistle extract at any local health food store. It comes in capsule, powder, or liquid form. Look for a standardized extract between 70%-80%. Avoid tea preparations though. It isn’t therapeutic because milk thistle doesn’t dissolve well in water.8
Milk thistle is also known as holy thistle. And it is definitely living up to the name.