Dr Justine Alford, senior science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "This research in mice is exciting because it not only reveals new details of how breast cancer grows and spreads, but it could lead to a completely new way to stop these processes in patients if proven in people". The researchers treated it with different concentrations between 0.5 and five mg/ml of extract of the Alba strawberry, for periods of 24, 48 and 72 hours. However, the scientists do point out that these results from animal testing cannot be extrapolated to humans.
Professor Caroline Springer, from the Institute of Cancer Research, London, who co-led the research, said: "We knew that LOX had a role in cancer's spread round the body, but to discover how it also appears to drive the growth of chest cancer cells is a real game changer".
Past studies have shown that the ingestion of 500 grammes of strawberries (between 10 and 15 strawberries) per day offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and reduces blood cholesterol levels. However, the findings over hope for the use of strawberries for prevention and treatment of breast cancer in women.
The extract simultaneously stimulated expression of the gene Htatip2, which many believe can suppress metastasis to the lymphatic ganglion in breast cancer patients.
The in vivo model used female laboratory mice, which at one month of age were divided into two groups: one was given a standard diet, while the other group was given an enriched diet, 15 percent of which was strawberry extract.
After five weeks on the strawberry diet it was found that the cancer hadn't spread, and in a lot of the mice the tumours had actually shrunk.
The tumours were monitored twice weekly by palpation.
"We also saw a significant reduction in the weight and volume of the tumour", Battino noted.
Dr Battino said: 'The majority of diseases, including cancer, are complex, and involve complex interactions between cellular and molecular systems that determine the development of the disease.
Despite the positive results of the study, in which researchers from the University of the Americas (Ecuador) and the International Iberoamerican University (Mexico) also participated, the researcher emphasises that the information from this and other studies using animal models cannot be extrapolated to humans.
The new study presents promising results on the potential positive effects of the fruit to prevent or treat breast cancer.