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Health - Taking the temperature of European healthcare
“Conducting the world’s largest ever prospective study on diet, lifestyle and chronic disease, to learn how to promote good health and long life.”

The problem

Research over several decades has shown that nutrition and lifestyle have a major influence on the incidence of cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke. These are some of the biggest health problems in Europe, but relatively few specific factors have been established as proven causes. Researchers face difficulties because it is not easy to assess dietary habits accurately, the diseases result from cumulative effects over many years, and the interaction of nutritional and lifestyle factors are complex. Well designed large-scale prospective studies are needed to bring more clarity to the field.

EPIC  Learning how nutrition and lifestyle affects health


EPIC will conduct a large scale and multi-centre prospective study of the causes of cancer and other chronic diseases, in relation to diet and lifestyle.

The project will:

  • Collect baseline data on diet and lifestyle, and blood samples and other body measurements, from more than 500 000 apparently healthy volunteers in ten Western European countries
  • Monitor the health of the participants over time, to assess the occurrence of cancer and other chronic diseases, and overall mortality
  • Establish links between the incidence of disease and death and specific dietary, biological and lifestyle factors

Contribution to policy development:

  • More comprehensive and reliable knowledge-base on the extent to which cancers, coronary heart disease and strokes can be attributed to diet and lifestyle
  • Improved understanding of the beneficial effects of public health and intervention strategies focused on these chronic diseases
  • Data to allow formulation of a European Code for chronic disease prevention, informed by lessons from the diets and lifestyles in different parts of Europe

Project deliverables

  • Identification of links between consumption of major foods, physical activity, genetic and physical make-up and the incidence of cancers, coronary heart disease and strokes – September 2005-August 2009
  • Analysis of the links between consumption of alcohol and tobacco and the risk of these diseases – September 2005-August 2009
  • Identification of dietary and lifestyle factors that predict long-term risks of these diseases – September 2005-August 2009
  • Guidance on the health impact of potential interventions to improve diet and lifestyle –
    August 2009


  • Publication of scientific papers in major international peer reviewed journals – as required
  • Working groups on specific cancers, risk factors and methodologies and an International Workshop in Cambridge, UK in 2007
  • European Conference on Nutrition, Lifestyle and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases in Barcelona, Spain in 2008
  • Publication of Proceedings of the Workshop and European Conference, and guideline reports
  • Global dissemination through EPIC websites – ongoing

Technical information

Project acronym: EPIC
Project’s official full title: European Prospective Investigation into Cancer, Chronic Diseases, Nutrition and Lifestyle
Research priority: 2.1. Health determinants and the provision of high quality and sustainable health care services and pension systems (in particular in the context of ageing and demographic change)
Specific webpage:
Proposal/contract no: 006438
Start date: 09/11/2005
Kick off meeting: Not available
Completion date: 08/11/2009
European Commission scientific officer: Jan Paehler,

Name: International Agency for Research on Cancer
Abbreviated name: IARC
Address: 150 Cours Albert-Thomas, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08
Country: France
Tel: +33 (0) 4 727 38485
Fax: +33 (0) 4 727 38575


Name: National Institute of Public Health and the Environment
Abbreviated name: RIVM
Country: Netherlands

Name: University of Cambridge
Abbreviated name: UCAM-PHPC
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Danish Cancer Society
Abbreviated name: CANCER-DK
Country: Denmark

Name: Cancer Research UK Epidemiology Unit
Abbreviated name: CR-UK
Country: United Kingdom

Name: University of Tromso
Abbreviated name: UiTo
Country: Norway

Name: Medical Research Council
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Universtita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Abbreviated name: UNINA
Country: Italy

Name: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Abbreviated name: NKUA
Country: Greece

Name: Andalusian School of Public Health, Granada, Spain
Abbreviated name: EASP
Country: Spain

Name: Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale
Abbreviated name: IGR
Country: France

Name: Direccion General de Salud Publica y Planificacion, Oviedo-Asturias, Spain
Abbreviated name: DGSPP
Country: Spain

Name: Deutsches Institut fuer Ernaehrungsforschung
Abbreviated name: DifE
Country: Germany

Name: Department of Medicine, Lund University
Abbreviated name: UMAS
Country: Sweden

Name: Centro per lo Studio e la Prevenzione Oncologica
Abbreviated name: CSPO
Country: Italy

Name: Catalan Institute of Oncology
Abbreviated name: ICO
Country: Spain

Name: Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Abbreviated name: DKFZ
Country: Germany

Name: Consejeria de Sanidad y Politica Social de la Region de Murcia, Spain
Abbreviated name: Murcia Hlth Council
Country: Spain

Name: Aalborg Hospital, Denmark
Abbreviated name: Aalborg Hospital-DK
Country: Denmark

Name: Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre
Abbreviated name: UMCU
Country: Netherlands

Name: University of Umeå
Abbreviated name: Umu
Country: Sweden

Name: Associazione Iblea per la Ricerca Epidemiologica
Abbreviated name: AIRE-ONLUS
Country: Italy

Name: Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori
Abbreviated name: INT
Country: Italy

Name: Servizio Universitario de Epidemiologia dei Tumori, Universita di Torino
Abbreviated name: UNITO
Country: Italy

Name: Fundacion Vasca de Innovacion e Investigacion Sanitarias
Abbreviated name: BIOEF
Country: Spain

Name: Instituto de Salud Publica de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
Abbreviated name: ISPN
Country: Spain