Strawberries showed promising results fighting breast cancer, according to a new study.

A team of researchers showed strawberry extract stopped the spread of lab-grown breast cancer cells, even when the cells were injected in mice to induce tumors. However, the study authors emphasize these findings, as well as findings from other studies using animal models, may not apply to humans.

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“These results are without a doubt valid for understanding potential effects of strawberries on breast cancer and the molecular mechanisms involved,” said study author Maurizio Battino, in a press release. “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 scientists exposed the breast cancer cells to various concentrations of the Alba variety of strawberry for periods of 24, 48, and 72 hours. The study results, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows the cells stopped growing (with certain strawberry dosages and time) before they got to the cycle when they usually divide and spread.

Next, one-month old female lab mice were given either a standard diet or an enriched diet that included strawberry extract. About one month later, the mice were injected with highly aggressive breast cancer cells.

Finally, another five weeks later, the researchers removed the tumors from the mice and found that the strawberry-enriched diet stopped the spread of cancer cells to nearby healthy tissue.

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

Although all fruits have many health benefits, strawberries, compared to other non-berry fruits, have large amounts of folate and vitamin C. But, there are differences among the various types of strawberries, the authors note. Some contain higher concentrations of phenolic compounds, which prior research indicates are responsible for the beneficial health effects. The Alba variety of strawberry, used in this study, originates in Italy.

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