In 1993, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) was started to set up a large international multi-centre collaboration to study the aetiology of chronic diseases of major public health importance such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. EPIC is the largest study of diet, biomarkers and health ever undertaken, having recruited over half a million people in 23 centres in ten European countries. By studying large numbers of people in different countries with differing lifestyles and large variation in disease frequency, EPIC is in an excellent position to provide important answers on remaining questions on the influence of genetic and lifestyle in the development of chronic diseases. Coordination of EPIC is at International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon and since 2005 also at Imperial College in London.
The Netherlands contributed two cohort studies to EPIC: the Prospect cohort of 17,357 women coordinated by the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care of the University Medical Center Utrecht and the MORGEN cohort of 23,100 men and women coordinated by the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).
So far, the EPIC study has provided relevant results on the influence of diet on cancer and other diseases. For example, the EPIC study showed that consumption of red and processed meat increases colorectal cancer risk while intake of fish decreases risk. More information on the results of the EPIC study to date can be found on its website (EPIC