Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC): study populations and data collection

E Ribolia1 c1, KJ Hunta2, N Slimania1, P Ferraria1, T Norata1, M Faheya1, UR Charrondièrea1, B Hémona1, C Casagrandea1, J Vignata1, K Overvada3, A Tjønnelanda4, F Clavel-Chapelona5, A Thiébauta5, J Wahrendorfa6, H Boeinga7, D Trichopoulosa8a9, A Trichopouloua8, P Vineisa10, D Pallia11, HB Bueno-de-Mesquitaa12, PHM Peetersa13, E Lunda14, D Engeseta14, CA Gonzáleza15, A Barricartea16, G Berglunda17, G Hallmansa18, NE Daya19, TJ Keya20, R Kaaksa21 and R Saraccia1a22

a1 Unit of Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC–WHO), 150 cours Albert-Thomas, 69372 Lyon Cedex 08, France

a2 Division of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA

a3 Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, University of Aarhus, Denmark

a4 Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society, Copenhagen, Denmark

a5 INSERM, U521, Institute Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France

a6 German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg, Germany

a7 Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Germany

a8 Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, School of Medicine, University of Athens, Greece

a9 Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

a10 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, University of Turin, Italy

a11 Molecular & Nutrition Epidemiology Unit, CSPO, Scientific Institute of Tuscany, Florence, Italy

a12 Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

a13 Julius Center for General Practice and Patient Oriented Research, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

a14 Institute of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Norway

a15 Department of Epidemiology, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain

a16 Service of Surveillance and Epidemiological Control, Institute of Public Health of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain

a17 Department of Medicine, Lund University, Malmö University Hospital, Sweden

a18 Public Health and Clinical Medicine, University Hospital of Northern Sweden, Umeå, Sweden

a19 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK

a20 Cancer Research UK, Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford, UK

a21 Hormones and Cancer Group, IARC–WHO, Lyon, France

a22 Division of Epidemiology, IFC National Research Council, Pisa, Italy


The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) is an ongoing multi-centre prospective cohort study designed to investigate the relationship between nutrition and cancer, with the potential for studying other diseases as well. The study currently includes 519 978 participants (366 521 women and 153 457 men, mostly aged 35–70 years) in 23 centres located in 10 European countries, to be followed for cancer incidence and cause-specific mortality for several decades. At enrolment, which took place between 1992 and 2000 at each of the different centres, information was collected through a non-dietary questionnaire on lifestyle variables and through a dietary questionnaire addressing usual diet. Anthropometric measurements were performed and blood samples taken, from which plasma, serum, red cells and buffy coat fractions were separated and aliquoted for long-term storage, mostly in liquid nitrogen. To calibrate dietary measurements, a standardised, computer-assisted 24-hour dietary recall was implemented at each centre on stratified random samples of the participants, for a total of 36 900 subjects. EPIC represents the largest single resource available today world-wide for prospective investigations on the aetiology of cancers (and other diseases) that can integrate questionnaire data on lifestyle and diet, biomarkers of diet and of endogenous metabolism (e.g. hormones and growth factors) and genetic polymorphisms. First results of case–control studies nested within the cohort are expected early in 2003. The present paper provides a description of the EPIC study, with the aim of simplifying reference to it in future papers reporting substantive or methodological studies carried out in the EPIC cohort.


c1 *Corresponding author: Email