Strawberries may cut breast cancer risk

Barsaba Taglieri
Aprile 21, 2017

"We have shown for the first time that strawberry extract, rich in phenolic compounds, inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo models", said principal investigator Maurizio Battino from the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy.

The in vitro model used cells from the A17 tumor cell line, a high aggressive and invasive tumor.

Strawberry extract also reduced the expression of several genes involved in the processes of metastasis, such as Csf1, Mcam, Nr4a3 and Set.

At the same time, one gene believed to suppress the spread of breast cancer, Htatip2, became more active.

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.

Strawberries may be the latest tool in the fight against breast cancer. An 18-year British study of nearly 93,600 women found that those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries - three or more servings a week - reduced their risk of a heart attack by a third when compared to women who ate berries once a month or less.

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% of which was strawberry extract.

When tested on mice, the medicine halted the protein's capacity to help cancer cells, slowing both the growth of tumours and the rate at which cells multiplied, scientists said.

The tumours were monitored twice weekly by palpation.

After five weeks on a strawberry-boosted diet, the mice showed no sign of progressing cancer spread - and in many, their tumors even shrank.

"We also saw a significant reduction in the weight and volume of the tumor", Battino said.

It has been noted that the concentration of phenolic compounds, which are thought to be responsible for the beneficial health effects, may vary significantly between different varieties of strawberries.

"The majority of diseases, including cancer, are complex, and involve complex interactions between cellular and molecular systems that determine the development of the disease", Dr Battino continued.

'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'.

Researchers from the University of the Americas in Ecuador and the International Iberoamerican University in Mexico also participated in the study.

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