STRAWBERRIES have been shown to stave off aggressive breast cancer in laboratory studies.
Scientists tested an extract from the fruit on laboratory-grown cancer cells and female mice with breast cancer tumours.
After five weeks on a strawberry-boosted diet, the mice showed no sign of progressing cancer spread and their tumours had shrunk.
Dr Maurizio Battino, from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy, said: “We … saw a significant reduction in the weight and volume of the tumour.”
The cancer cells used in the experiments were from a highly aggressive and invasive strain.
However, the researchers stressed that results from animal tests do not necessarily mean the same effects will be seen in humans.
Previous studies have already shown that eating between 10 and 15 strawberries a day can make arteries healthier by reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Phenolic plant compounds in the fruits are thought to be responsible for the beneficial effects.
Breast cancer cell line studies showed that strawberry extract blocked biological processes involved in tumour growth and spread.
The activity of several genes playing a role in metastasis, or cancer spread, were reduced. At the same time, one gene believed to suppress the spread of breast cancer, Htatip2, became more active.
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.
“These results are without a doubt valid for understanding potential effects of strawberries on breast cancer and the molecular mechanisms involved, but they must be complemented with clinical and epidemiological studies to verify whether humans experience the same positive effects as we have observed in mice.”
The study appears in the latest edition of the journal Scientific Reports.