A new study has reported that kaempferol, a flavonol found in foods such as kale, chives and turnip greens, reduces the cardiotoxic effects of Adriamycin (doxorubicin) in rats. The usefulness of Adriamycin, an anthracycline chemotherapy drug with powerful antitumor activity, is limited by Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity, which can lead to heart failure in susceptible breast cancer patients. To conduct the study, the authors divided rats into two groups. Both groups were treated with injections of Adriamycin every other day for six days. However, one group of rats was pretreated with kaempferol before receiving the Adriamycin.

In the absence of pretreatment with kaempferol, Adriamycin resulted in reduced body and heart growth, as well as signs of heart damage. On the other hand, kaempferol pretreatment was found to reduce the Adriamycin-induced damage in heart tissues. Cell studies also found that kaempferol appeared to use the mitochondrion-dependent pathway to inhibit the Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity. Previous studies have reported that the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin against cancer cells is not reduced by exposure of the cells to kaempferol. The authors conclude that kaempferol protected against Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity. They further comment that kaempferol might be a promising reagent for treating Adriamycin-induced cardiotoxicity, and may have implications in the long-term clinical usefulness of Adriamycin.

Note that while black and green tea are also good sources of kaempferol, they might reduce the effectiveness of Adriamycin and other anthracycline chemotherapy through their caffeine content.

Please see our article on breast cancer diet during Adriamycin chemotherapy for more information on how to optimize treatment with Adriamycin and minimize its side effects.