European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)

Lead Contacts and/or Principal Investigators (PIs):

Funded Since: 1992
Funding Source: World Health Organization (WHO), Europe Against Cancer Program of the European Commission
Year(s) of Enrollment: 1992-2000
Study Website: http://epic.iarc.frExternal Web Site Policy

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) was founded at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), in Lyon, France, and is coordinated by Dr. Elio Riboli, Head of the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London. EPIC received substantial financial support from the Europe Against Cancer Program of the European Commission.

EPIC was designed to investigate the relationships between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases. EPIC is the largest study of diet and health ever undertaken, having recruited over half a million (520,000) people in ten European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Within these countries, EPIC research scientists are based in 23 centers: one in France (Paris), Greece (Athens), and Norway (Tromsø); two in Denmark (Aarhus and Copenhagen), Germany (Heidelberg and Potsdam), Sweden (Malmo and Umea), The Netherlands (Bilthoven and Utrecht), and the United Kingdom (Cambridge and Oxford); five in Italy (Florence, Milan, Naples, Ragusa, and Turin), and Spain (Granada, Murcia, Asturias, Pamplona, and San Sebastian with Barcelona the coordination center). Originally there were seven countries involved but between 1995 and 2000 Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, which were already involved in similar studies, joined EPIC and thus broadened the European cohort to include Scandinavian populations.

Recruitment into the study, which was initiated in 1992, was principally from the general population aged 20 years or over, and took place between 1993 and 1999. Detailed information on diet and lifestyle was obtained by questionnaire, and anthropometric measurements and blood samples were taken at recruitment. The blood is stored in liquid nitrogen for future analyses. By studying many people in different countries with differing diets, using carefully designed and tested questionnaires, EPIC should produce much more specific information about the effect of diet on long-term health than any previous study. The first results were presented in June 2001 at the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, and the conference proceedings have been published in Riboli E., Lambert A. (eds): Nutrition and lifestyle: Opportunities for Cancer Prevention. IARC Sci. Publ. No.156. 2002.

EPIC plans to follow-up the study participants for the next ten years at least, continuing to study the role of nutrition and lifestyle in cancer development and other chronic diseases.

In September 2001, the 5 A Day Initiative project, under the auspices of the German Cancer Society in Frankfurt, Germany, entered into a collaborative research agreement with the EPIC study.

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