An extract commonly found in herbal tea can stop the spread of breast cancer, researchers have found.

The ingredient comes from a plant called fagonia cretica, also known as Virgon's mantlem, Medical Daily reported. It is traditionally used in Pakistan to help treat battle breast cancer but was dismissed as folklore.

However, researchers from Aston University and Russells Hall Hospital in the UK found the plant extract killed cancerous breast tissue without destroying healthy cells. They now want to work work out what component fights the cancer and assess if it's as affective in humans as it is in the lab.

The plant is found in dry areas of Pakistan, India, Africa and Europe.

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Over 2,600 New Zealand women and just over 20 men are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

- HERALD ONLINE