EPIC - European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC) emerged from the need to clarify the role of diet in cancer etiology as well as in the etiology of other chronic diseases. It belongs to a new generation of multi-center prospective cohort studies in which collection and analysis of biological samples is a fundamental component of the study design. This generation of studies overcomes problems related to the case-control study methodology and deals successfully with issues such as the inherent limitations of the dietary assessment methods, the small study sample and the low variability of exposure (in this case diet) among the study population. EPIC consists of large, diverge European populations characterized by great heterogeneity in their dietary and lifestyle habits and cancer risk, collects a wealth of information on socio-demographic and health related factors, and, through blood collection, possess an additional tool for the conduct biochemical and biological investigations.

EPIC is one of the most important cohort studies ever launched worldwide. Twenty two research centers from 10 European countries (Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) participate in the study, under the coordination of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organization. The study is supported by the "Europe Against Cancer" program of the European Commission, as well as by national sources (for Greece mainly the Ministry of Health and Welfare). For more information on EPIC click here.

The Greek segment of the EPIC study (EPIC-Greece) started in 1994, after the successful implementation of a pilot study during 1991-1993. Recruitment of volunteers was completed in 1999. The Greek cohort consists of 28,572 adults, 16,619 women and 11953 men, 20 to 86 years old, recruited from all over Greece and representing a broad range of socio-demographic factors. Data collection was accomplished by means of an interview during a baseline examination in which the following information was recorded:

  • medical and reproductive history

  • socio-demographic and lifestyle factors, and

  • habitual diet

Baseline examination also included measurement of anthropometric data and collection of blood samples.

The follow-up of study participants was initiated in January 1997 and focused on the update of information on lifestyle factors and, most importantly, the health status of the participants. Due to the lack of a national cancer registry and the country-wide nature of EPIC-Greece, information is being collected through self-administered questionnaires or telephone interviews. Reported diagnoses of interest are further ascertained through consultation of medical files in hospitals and clinics all over Greece, or through the collection of death certificates from the regional death registries, in case of death.

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