A study by European and Latin American researchers has shown that strawberry extract can inhibit the spread of laboratory-grown breast cancer cells, even when they are inoculated in female mice to induce tumors. However, the scientists do point out that these results from animal testing cannot be extrapolated to humans.
Past investigations have shown that the ingestion of 500 g of strawberries (between 10 and 15 strawberries) per day offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and reduces blood cholesterol levels. Now, a new study published in the open-access journal Scientific Reports presents promising results on the potential positive effects of the fruit to prevent or treat breast cancer.
“We have shown for the first time that strawberry extract, rich in phenolic compounds, inhibits the proliferation of breast cancer cells in in vitro and in vivo models,” SINC was told by Maurizio Battino, co-author of the paper and a principal investigator at the Marche Polytechnic University (Italy) and the European University of the Atlantic in Santander (Spain).
The in vitro model used cells from the highly aggressive, invasive A17 tumor cell line; these were treated with different concentrations (between 0.5 and 5 mg/ml) of extract of the Alba variety of strawberry, for periods of 24, 48 and 72 hours. The results demonstrated that this decreased cell viability (dependent on dosage and time), blocked the cycle leading to cell division and inhibited migration.
It was also shown that strawberry extract reduced the expression of several genes involved in the processes of invasion and metastasis, such as Csf1, Mcam, Nr4a3 and Set. The extract simultaneously stimulated expression of the gene Htatip2, which is thought to 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. Another month later, all the mice were injected with A17 breast cancer cells.
The tumors were monitored twice weekly by palpation. After 5 weeks, the tumors were extracted and analyzed to evaluate their weight and volume.
The data collected in the study also signaled that supplementing diet with strawberry extract had served to stop the propagation of cancer cells to adjacent healthy tissue. “We also saw a significant reduction in the weight and volume of the tumor,” Battino stresses.