Yes, you read that right. No this is not a joke. Though it’s not just playing with them that does the trick. A new study from the University of California in Berkeley shows a remarkable correlation between breast compression and the reduction of cancerous breast tissue. The study suggests that cancerous breast cells have simply “forgotten” how to be healthy and with a little cuddle time with other healthy breast cells they can be retaught how to be healthy. “Malignant cells have not completely forgotten how to be healthy; they just need the right cues to guide them back to a healthy growth pattern,” said Gautham Venugopalan, a member of the “Let’s just squash cancer” research team.
The team has found that after cancerous cells have been in close compressed proximity to healthy cells, basically squished up against them, the malignant cells began to take on normal growth patterns. The research team has found that the effects appear to last for large periods of time between compression. In one of their controlled experiments researchers grew “malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers” then squashed the cells, an action which, over time, caused the malignant cells to grow in a more “normal and organized way”. In comparison the tissue that was not compressed continued to “seek attention” via the “haphazard and uncontrolled” growth that leads to cancer.
Breast tissue shrinks and grows throughout a woman’s life in response to changes in her reproductive cycle, and stops growing when it needs to. One of the early signs of breast cancer is the break-down of this normal growth pattern. Being able to return these out of control cells to a normal growth pattern is a huge step to preventing and treating breast cancer.
“We are showing that tissue organization is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development,” Professor Daniel Fletcher, who runs the Berkeley laboratory, said. “An early signal, in the form of compression, appears to get these malignant cells back on the right track,” Fletcher said. In addition adding a drug that helps to prevent cells adhering to their neighbors reversed the effects of compression, the scientists found. The cells returned to a disorganized, cancerous state despite being compressed.
In cases where cancer has started to develop firm pressure applied to the breasts has shown reduction of cancerous cells. It is believed that this method may also help prevent cancer for those with currently healthy breasts. While the study has not finished and the evidence is not 100% conclusive, this method may be able to be applied for other kinds of cancer with similar results. As one researcher remarked, it looks like cancer may just need a hug.
At any rate, guys, looks like whats fun for you might just be able to save a woman you know from breast cancer.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco.