A little squeeze may be all that it takes to prevent malignant breast cells triggering cancer, research has shown.
Laboratory experiments showed that applying physical pressure to the cells guided them back to a normal growth pattern.
Scientists do not envisage fighting breast cancer with a new range of compression bras, but they believe the research provides clues that could lead to new treatments.
"People have known for centuries that physical force can influence our bodies," said Gautham Venugopalan, a leading member of the research team at the University of California in Berkeley, US. "When we lift weights our muscles get bigger.
The force of gravity is essential to keeping our bones strong. Here we show that physical force can play a role in the growth - and reversion - of cancer cells."
The study involved growing malignant breast epithelial cells within a gel injected into flexible silicone chambers.
This allowed the scientists to apply compression during the first stages of cell growth, effectively squashing the cells.
Over time, the squeezed malignant cells began to grow in a more normal and organised way.
Once the breast tissue structure was formed the cells stopped growing, even when the compressive force was removed.
Non-compressed cells continued to display the haphazard and uncontrolled growth that leads to cancer.
"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 Mr Venugopalan, a doctoral student.
The results were presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco.
Professor Daniel Fletcher, who runs the Berkeley laboratory, said: "We are showing that tissue organisation is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development.
"An early signal, in the form of compression, appears to get these malignant cells back on the right track."
He added: "Compression, in and of itself, is not likely to be a therapy. But this does give us new clues to track down the molecules and structures that could eventually be targeted for therapies."
Adding a drug that helps to prevent cells adhering to their neighbours reversed the effects of compression, the scientists found. The cells returned to a disorganised, cancerous state despite being compressed.
Also on HuffPost:
Breast Cancer Screening Bra 'Catches 90% Of Tumours In Tests'
A bra which hope to detect breast cancer in wearers, before it can be seen in traditional scans, has shown promising early results. In a series of clinical trials, the bra successfully detected over 90% of breast tumours at a very early stage. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/25/breast-cancer-detect-bra_n_2016369.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>
Women With Bigger Breasts Have Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer, Finds Genetic Study
According to new research, a genetic link has been made between breast size and breast cancer risks. Medical News Today reports that genetics company 23andMe has identified seven single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - or genetic variations - significantly associated with breast size. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/05/health-bigger-breasts-higher-cancer-risk_n_1650466.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>
Stress Speeds Spread Of Breast Cancer, Suggests Study
Stress can hasten the spread of breast cancer to the bones, research suggests. Studies of mice showed that responses to stress made it easier for tumours to take root in the bone. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/18/health-stress-speeds-spread-breast-cancer-women_n_1682069.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>
Breast Cancer Screening Led To 4,000 Women Undergoing Unnecessary Treatment - Study
Breast cancer screening leads to thousands of women undergoing unnecessary treatment despite saving lives, according to an independent review. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/30/breast-cancer-4000-women_n_2042664.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read full story</a>
Breast Cancer Treatment That 'Melts' Tumours
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) has launched a spin-out company that will develop a next-generation of High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) surgery to treat - and melt - cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/25/new-cancer-tumour-melting-device-coming-soon_n_1231308.html?ref=uk-lifestyle" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
New Genetic Test Could Save Thousands From Chemotherapy
Almost half of women with the most common form of early breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy thanks to a genetic test, research suggests. The Oncotype DX test involves the examination of genes taken from a sample of a tumour removed during surgery. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/16/genetic-breast-cancer-test-to-cut-chemotherapy_n_1153475.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Breast Cancer Could Be Detected In Seconds Using Anti-Landmine Technology
Breast cancer could be detected in seconds using new, anti-landmine technology. British scientists have developed a revolutionary breast-screening system that uses anti-landmine technology to detect cancer in seconds. The radio-wave scanner is safer, cheaper and less painful than traditional mammogram X-rays, and unlike the current system, can be used on women of all ages. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/02/new-scan-detects-breast-cancer-in-seconds-anti-landmine-technology_n_1125166.htm" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Low GI Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk
According to new scientific research, eating a low glycemic index (GI) diet could drastically decrease the risks of breast cancer. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/low-gi-diet-may-reduce-breast-cancer-risks_n_1208477.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Fresh Doubts Over HRT Treatment And Breast Cancer Risks
The controversial link between hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer has resurfaced, with health experts claiming that there is no solid evidence that HRT increases breast cancer risks. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/16/fresh-doubts-over-hrt-treeatment-breast-cancer_n_1208863.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
New Paraben 'Link' To Breast Cancer Risks
New scientific evidence has indicated that common preservative chemicals found in underarm antiperspirants and thousands of other everyday products, can be detected in breast cancer tumours. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/12/paraben-chemical-linked-to-breast-cancer_n_1202144.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Cancer Drugs Might Help Tumours Spread, Rather Than Preventing Them
Cancer drugs that are designed to shrink tumours by cutting off the supply to their blood may be doing the opposite and helping them spread to other parts of the body, a study has warned. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/17/cancer-drugs-might-help-tumours-spread_n_1210647.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story..</a>.</strong>
Boiling Breast Cancer Tumours 'Kills Them In Minutes'
A new treatment for breast cancer has been discovered after scientists found that breast tumours can be killed in minutes - by boiling them <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/22/boiling-breast-cancer-tumours-kills-them-in-minutes_n_1107632.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Alcohol Warning To Women With Family History Of Breast Cancer
Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer should avoid drinking alcohol, a new study suggests. Health experts warn that women whose mothers, grandmothers and aunts have had breast cancer, are more than twice as likely to develop the disease than non-drinkers. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/15/alcohol-warning-to-women-with-family-history-breast-cancer_n_1094409.html" target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>
Britain Lagging Behind In Breast Cancer Survival Rate
The UK is lagging behind other countries on survival rates for breast, bowel and cervical cancer and has much higher hospital admission rates for asthma, research shows. <strong><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/24/britain-fall-behind-on-cancer-survival-rates_n_1111590.html " target="_hplink">Click here to read the full story...</a></strong>