129 women in Donegal were diagnosed with breast cancer over a 12 month period.

Women who take vitamin D after being diagnosed with breast cancer may have an increased chance of survival, new research supported by the Irish Cancer Society has shown.

Researchers from the Irish Cancer Society cancer research centre BREAST-PREDICT analysed data from almost 5,500 breast cancer patients and found that taking vitamin D supplements after diagnosis was associated with an increased relative survival of 20 per cent, compared to those who did not.

The study was led by cancer researchers based at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland).

The findings were revealed as breast cancer researchers, survivors, and broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan launched ‘Cups Against Breast Cancer,’ an Irish Cancer Society fundraising campaign which aims to raise money for breast cancer research and support services.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer affecting women and in Donegal 129 women were diagnosed with breast cancer over a 12 month period.

The Irish Cancer Society is calling on Donegal’s support as it launches ‘Cups Against Breast Cancer’ campaign.

RTE broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan at the launch of Cups Against Breast Cancer, an Irish Cancer Society fundraising campaign. Picture Andres Poveda

Head of Research at the Irish Cancer Society, Dr Robert O’Connor, said: “This research is an example of the vital BREAST-PREDICT, made possible by the country’s support of fundraising campaigns like ‘Cups Against Breast Cancer’.

“Since the Irish Cancer Society established BREAST-PREDICT five years ago, we’ve funded the work of over 50 breast cancer researchers across the country. That’s meant a €7.5 million investment that’s only been possible through the public’s generous donations.

“The Irish Cancer Society can only invest in cancer research because of this support. Throughout October we’re asking the people of Donegal to continue this support by hosting a Cups Against Breast Cancer coffee morning to raise funds for breast cancer research and free patient support services. Visit www.cancer.ie/cupsagainstcancer to get involved.”

Dr O’Connor added: “Before rushing out to buy vitamin D supplements, we urge women with breast cancer to first talk to their medical team. Vitamin D use can cause health issues and each woman’s cancer is unique and will require personalised treatment.

“While this is an important preliminary study, the findings only shows an association, and not causal link. We will only know if vitamin D supplementation should be recommended to improve breast cancer treatment outcome in the coming years when the results of clinical trials emerge.”