Biological factors, such as reproductive history or mammographic breast density, substantially influence indicence of many chronic diseases, such as several types of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Also lifestyle factors, such as physical activity, smoking, alcohol use, and diet, are important determinants of chronic disease risk. This is convincingly illustrated in migration studies. These studies have shown that the risk of chronic diseases for people migrating to western countries resemble the incidence rates of their hosting countries within one or two generations.
Besides these biological and lifestyle factors, also genetic make-up is important in determining who will eventually develop disease and who will not. Especially the interplay between genetic make-up and biological and lifestyle factors is crucial for determining disease risk.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) was initiated to address the role of biological and lifestyle determinants, genetic background and the interplay between genetic and non-genetic factors in chronic disease occurrence. EPIC-NL is the Dutch contribution to this collaboration.