Way back in 1930 at the brick-red University of Szeged in Hungary, a brilliant scientist named Albert Szent-Györgyi identified a new natural compound from an orange that enabled the body to efficiently use carbohydrates, fats, and protein. A compound we know today as vitamin C.1
The discovery earned Dr. Szent-Györgyi the Nobel Prize and a place in the history books, but what many don’t realize is that he made numerous other discoveries that were just as remarkable.
One of them is flavonoids. These mighty little compounds are often forgotten but fight cancer in amazing ways…
Flavonoids are produced in plants and specialize in the art of protection, whether that means protecting the plant against ultraviolet rays, chemical compounds or pollution.
When Dr. Szent-Györgyi uncovered flavonoids in citrus fruit he suspected that these compounds supported the human body by strengthening capillary blood vessels—he was right.
Today, flavonoids are well-known for their powerful cardioprotective, anticoagulant, antiplatelet ability. They’re also antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and even antitumor.2
However, the good doctor couldn’t have predicted that flavonoids would become a force of their own, with more than 6,000 varieties identified to date.
Flavonoids can be divided into six classes, one of which is flavonols. Flavonols are the reason our food has color, flavor, enzymes, and vitamins.3
The specific flavonol I want to talk to you about today is called kaempferol, also known as KPF. Kaempferol is found in most fruits and vegetables and is partly responsible for the bitter taste in teas.
Assuming cancer prevention is high on your radar, kaempferol is something you want more of in your life.
Multi-pronged defense against cancer
Loads of studies have shown kaempferol’s usefulness in lowering the risk of chronic diseases, and cancer in particular. Because kaempferol is not the kind of compound that concentrates its efforts in one area, it holds potential as an extremely useful, versatile, anti-cancer treatment.
More specifically, kaempferol seems to be multi-talented in its approach against cancer. Not only can this flavonoid effectively promote cell death in a lot of cancers, but it also modifies several signaling pathways, essentially rewiring the cancer cells so they get mixed up, so to speak, and are less effective.
In another study, kaempferol treatments helped reduce total protein levels, which are associated with cancer cell growth and proliferation. When it comes to cancer cells, you don’t want these particular protein cells around – they’re like growth hormones!4
Kaempferol also helps with something called nutrient starvation. By blocking the ability of cancer cells to suck up glucose, they enter a phase I’ll call “failure to thrive.” And its not just glucose – kaempferol also checks the production of fats (normally necessary to cell growth) in cancer cells.
In terms of barring nutrient delivery, processing, and storage, kaempferol can really launch a comprehensive crusade to starve cancer cells. Add to this the fact that this flavonoid curbs angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels designed to feed cancer cells) and stops metastasis (the spread of cancer cells throughout the body), and you’ve got a bona fide super cancer fighter.5
Even more exciting, kaempferol also seems to serve a protective role when it comes to normal cells. Not only does this flavonoid not harm them, as some chemotherapy drugs would, but it also seems to neutralize certain toxins to provide further protection for healthy cells.6
Beats brain and spinal cord cancers
A specific example of the powers of kaempferol is how it helps fight certain tumors on the brain and spinal cord, known as CNS tumors. These are associated with a tragically high death rate for affected patients, and especially those who suffer this cancer in early childhood.
In fact, CNS tumors are the second most frequent tumor affecting kids under the age of 15, and appear to be the result of acquired or inherited genetic mutations that come from environmental pollution. It makes sense, then, that kaempferol could make a difference, as one of its superpowers in plants is to protect against environmental pollution.7
Research shows one of the most aggressive types of CNS tumors, called GBM, is significantly affected by kaempferol. One study showed that kaempferol could inhibit the activity of the proteins that cause these tumors to be aggressive, and it appeared to cause apoptotic morphological cell changes. In other words, kaempferol sent those cells down the path toward spontaneous death.8
On top of that (and unsurprisingly), it does this far more safely than standard chemotherapy drugs.9
Enjoy more vegetables, fruit and tea
Kaempferol is most abundant in broccoli, apples, strawberries, and beans.10 You’ll also find this flavonoid in cabbage, gooseberries, grapes, kale, tomatoes, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, and grapefruit.11
Perhaps the highest concentrations of kaempferol are in tea, with black tea containing the most, followed by green tea, and oolong tea. In fact, in scientific applications as well as supplements, the kaempferol used is generally isolated from tea leaves.12
At present, there’s ongoing research in the field of nanotechnology to work on supplying the medical world with a more bioavailable form of kaempferol, which looks like it’ll be a promising way to get kaempferol into the treatment plans of patients who desperately need it.13 But if you’re not actively fighting cancer, eating this flavonoid in its natural form is the best way to take advantage of its cancer-fighting power.
You can also find kaempferol supplements online and in natural health food stores, usually combined with quercetin or other flavonols.