The purpose of this study was to investigate how human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (HUMSCs) affect breast cancer tumourigenesis. To observe the influence of HUMSCs on tumourigenesis in vitro, we performed a co-culture of MDA MB-231 breast cancer cells with HUMSCs, and a result of HUMSCs on tumourigenesis in vivo was achieved by injection of HUMSCs into nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient mice following tumour establishment with MDA-MB231. During the co-culture, apoptosis of MDA-MB231 was noted, which was driven either by binding with HUMSC through direct cell–cell contact or by formation of a novel cell-in-cell phenomenon after internalization of HUMSC. Also, treatment with HUMSC injection was efficacious in both in situ and metastatic breast cancers in the animal models. Since HUMSCs were proved to efficaciously suppress breast cancer tumourigenesis both in vitro and in vivo, it is our expectation that treatment with HUMSCs can be a viable therapy for breast cancer in the near future. In addition, we share a new point of view on the role of HUMSCs in foetal development during pregnancy.