SCIENTISTS believe they have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and the chances of women developing breast cancer.
The Sydney-based Westmead Cancer Institute study found women living in the southern states of Australia were more likely to develop the disease, compared to their northern counterparts.
The study found women who were more likely to be exposed to Vitamin D, or sunlight, had less of a chance of developing the disease.
Although the findings are yet to be publicly released, the news comes as Cancer Council Queensland announced future plans to examine whether geographical location and socioeconomics impacted breast cancer outcomes.
Westmead Cancer Institute clinical and research dietician Kellie Bilinski said this was the first Australian study of its kind.
"This is not an association study that proves living further north lowers the rate of cancer. The study hypothesises that the more sunlight a person is exposed to, the less likely they are to develop the disease," Ms Bilinski said.
Cancer Council Queensland has previously revealed women living in rural and regional areas of the state had significantly poorer survival from breast cancer.
Cancer Council Queensland researcher Dr Pip Youl will explore these inequalities during her four year research fellowship.
Support group leader surprised by demand
WHEN Kim Warner started a breast cancer support group in Gladstone more than a decade ago, the 48-year old didn't think she would see so many people diagnosed with the disease.
"We had a few people turn up when we started the group in 2000, but now more than 20 women are attending our support classes," Kim said.
Although Kim said she supported research into the disease, she made note that there were a number of factors that contributed to breast cancer.
In 1997 the Gladstone resident was diagnosed with the disease.
But 15 years later Kim has overcome her battle and is determined to help others fight it as well.
"They say surviving five years after diagnosis is a good thing, but they can never say the cancer will not come back," Kim said.
- Women's Health Centre, Derby St, Gladstone.
- Breast Buddies: meet every second Friday of the month at 9.30am.
- Be Pampered Cancer Support: meets every second Tuesday of the month at 9.30am.
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