According to researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, placing mechanical force on malignant mammary cells can actually reverse their irregular growth process and put them back on track for a normal growth pattern.

“We are showing that tissue organization is sensitive to mechanical inputs from the environment at the beginning stages of growth and development,” said Daniel Fletcher, professor of bioengineering at Berkeley and faculty scientist at the Berkeley Lab, as well as the study’s lead investigator.

Breast tissue grows, shrinks and shifts throughout the course of a woman’s life in a structured pattern – and ultimately stops growing at some point. Breast cancer is often characterized by a breakdown in this normal growth pattern, causing breast cancer cells to grow irregularly.