Dr. Justine Alford, from Cancer Research UK, whose scientists at the University of Manchester contributed to the discovery, said: "This research in mice is exciting because it not only reveals new details of how chest 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 researchers stressed that results from animal tests do not necessarily mean the same effects will be seen in humans.
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.
Researchers found a protein called lysyl oxidase, or Lox, which allowed breast cancer cells to latch on to growth receptors - helping them grow more rapidly. The extract simultaneously stimulated expression of the gene Htatip2, which is thought to suppress metastasis to the lymphatic ganglion in breast cancer patients.
A new method of combating breast cancer has been discovered by scientists after they pinpointed a key driver for its growth and spread.
After five weeks on a strawberry-boosted diet, the mice showed no sign of progressing cancer spread - and in many, their tumors even shrank.
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. Another month later, all the mice were injected with A17 breast cancer cells.
The tumours were monitored twice weekly by palpation.
Maurizio Battino, who is co-author of the paper and a principal investigator at the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy and the European University of the Atlantic in Santander in Spain, says the results of this study are definitely valid for gaining an understanding of potential effects of strawberries on breast cancer.
Researchers from the University of the Americas in Ecuador and the International Iberoamerican University in Mexico also participated in the study.
"The majority of diseases, including cancer, are complex", he explains, "and involve complex interactions between cellular and molecular systems that determine the development of the disease".