Washington: Cancer cells, which kill nearly 12,000 people in the US alone every year and affect more than half a million worldwide, could be eradicated with grape seed extract, reveals a study.

The extract creates conditions unfavourable for the cancers' growth by damaging both their cells' DNA and stops the pathways that allow repair.

"It's a rather dramatic effect," said Rajesh Agarwal, study investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Centre and professor at the Skaggs School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

"Cancer cells are fast-growing cells. Not only that, but they are necessarily fast growing. When conditions exist in which they can't grow, they die," said Agarwal, according to a university statement.

"I think the whole point is that cancer cells have a lot of defective pathways and they are very vulnerable if you target those pathways. The same is not true of healthy cells," added Agarwal.