Nutritional epidemiology

A healthy lifestyle can prevent many cases of cancer. About one third of all cancer cases could be avoided if the population was leaner, physically more active and adopted a healthy diet. These statements are based on a joint report from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) first published in 1997 and updated in 2007. This report evaluated and summarized the results from many international studies on associations between nutrition, physical activity, obesity and cancer.

According to the report, physical activity, normal weight and a high intake of fruits and vegetables have protective effects, whereas smoking and high intake levels of alcohol and meat are cancer promoting. The joint effect of alcohol and smoking is synergistic, i.e. the effect of both factors together is larger than the sum of the effects for the single factors.

The fundamental role of nutrition in the development of cancer is uncontested. However, in terms of public nutrition recommendations, an effect on cancer development has only been convincingly proven for a few food groups, nutrients or other components of diet. 

The aim of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) is to contribute to the further clarification of the association between nutrition and cancer as well as other chronic diseases in order to enable more accurate recommendations for a healthy diet. The EPIC-Heidelberg study, which is run by our division, contributes to this European project.

We would like to thank our study participants for their active participation during the many years since the start of the EPIC-Heidelberg study in 1994-1998 and are looking forward to their valuable future support. We also would like to thank all medical doctors and their personnel in general practices and clinics which supported us by providing us with information on our questions despite their huge daily workload.

Finally, we would like to thank our former and actual sponsors:

  • German Cancer Research Centre
  • German Cancer Aid
  • Commission of the European Union (Programme "Europe Against Cancer")
  • Kurt-Eberhard-Bode-Foundation
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research

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