"All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that's an alibi for my ignorance."
The headlines sounded like the prelude to a joke. I could see men starting to carry "Official Breast Squeezer" badges, like the "Official Breast Examiner" ones that gag gift shops sell. It seemed that science had proven that squeezing the breasts would cause cancer cells to revert to non-cancer cells. It also sounded too good to be true.
And of course, it was. If you saw the story on a news site, you got something that had been more or less re-interpreted to attract page views. This is the kind of story that the media loves to churn out. Boobies ahoy! Never mind giving people an accurate summation of the research.
Here is the real story. Scientists were working with cancer cells in vitro, not with actual living breasts. The cells were grown in a gelatine matrix in flexible silicone compartments which allowed them to provide compression to the individual silicone compartments housing the cell clusters. Receiving that mechanical input on the cells caused the malignant cells to organize themselves and begin to develop normally again. Did you catch that? Because many of the journalists relating the story didn't. It was the cell clusters that were compressed, not the breasts themselves!
The reason this is so important to scientists is because until now, most research has focused on what sort of biochemical processes affect cancer cells. No one has really looked at the mechanical processes. This opens up new research pathways into understanding cancer. It doesn't, at present, offer any new therapies for patients. There will be no compression bras for cancer treatment, or therapists offering breast massage. What may eventually develop, however, are treatments that focus on the proteins that hold cells together.
If you are interested in the science, you can read the press release from UC Berkeley. You'll get a better idea of the story there than reading it on the Daily Mail or Foxnews.
The bottom line is that now scientists know more about how breast cancer develops, which is good. As for those of us at home, the best way to squeeze your breasts for better health is your monthly self-exam.