A businesswoman is the driving force behind a scientific study which has discovered Matcha green tea can halt the growth of breast cancer stem cells.

Katherine Swift, 46, was

inspired to supply the high grade Japanese tea for the study

by her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer.

The scientific team at Salford University, led by Professor Michael Lisanti, has been working for two years on the study.

It has confirmed that Matcha tea shifts cancer cells towards a “quiescent metabolic state” and “completely stops their propagation at a relatively low concentration”.

Katherine is the founder of Hove-based online Matcha tea company OMGTea.

She met Professor Lisanti, professor of translational medicine at the university, while she was

project-managing a major UK breast cancer research appeal in 2010, the year her mother Elizabeth was diagnosed.

“The diagnosis was horrendous,” said Katherine, who lives in Hove with husband Jason, assistant coach with Sussex County Cricket Club, and their two children aged 12 and nine.

“She is one of those people you would least expect to get cancer as she had a good diet, didn’t drink and didn’t smoke.

“But she’s a worrier and had had a particularly stressful time just before her diagnosis.

“I’m one of five and mum has always been a strong person so the thought that she was potentially not going to make it was just devastating.

“She did everything she could to help herself – started yoga, adapting her diet and drinking green tea.”

Elizabeth, who lives in Bolton and has just celebrated her 70th birthday, underwent a mastectomy and all her lymph nodes were removed following chemotherapy.

Katherine began to look into the health properties of Matcha tea, which she discovered contains 137 times the antioxidants found in normal green tea.

She began fundraising for breast cancer in Manchester, where she lived at the time.

Through the campaign, she met Professor Lisanti and discovered he was carrying out research on antioxidants.

“When I met Professor Lisanti, I was literally punching the air because I had such a great feeling of positivity about his research.

“I am so thrilled with the results of this study and feel that finally we are going some small way to proving the potential healthful and curative effect this beautiful green powder could have.”

Professor Lisanti, professor of Translational Medicine at the university, said: “Katherine was the driving force behind this study and donated the necessary product for testing.

“I have always been interested in natural products for cancer prevention and/or treatment so to finally have this positive research which confirms the effects of Matcha green tea on breast cancer stem cells is a very important first step forward.

“Matcha green tea fits very well with our interest in natural products.

“Our finding could also help explain why lifespan in Japan is among the highest in the world.”

Katherine travelled to Japan to source the highest grade Matcha tea leaves before launching OMGTea in 2014.

“Matcha tea is everywhere in Japan and it has been part of their culture for hundreds of years,” she said.

“Samurais used to drink it before battles.

“Brighton is the ideal place to spread the word about organic Matcha tea because people who live here are very health conscious.”