The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC) is a prospective cohort of 521,468 men and women enrolled from ten countries (UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, Denmark and Norway). The planning and piloting of EPIC was initiated in 1990 by IARC-WHO and the participating centres, with support from the European Commission. When study participant recruitment began in 1992, detailed information on diet, comprehensive lifestyle characteristics, anthropometric measurements and medical history was collected. Biological samples including plasma, serum, leukocytes, and erythrocytes were collected from 387,889 individuals, and have been stored at the International Agency for Research on Cancer for the majority of centers, and at EPIC collaborating centers (Denmark and Sweden). Since recruitment, incident cancer cases have been identified via routine linkage to population-based cancer registries or by active follow-up. Mortality data, including vital status, cause of death, and date of death, have been obtained from mortality registries at the regional or national level. Up until 2009, over 63,000 EPIC participants had been diagnosed with incident cancer. It is anticipated that by 2020 this number will have risen to 90,000.
Overall, the EPIC biorepositories host over 9 million aliquots, constituting one of the largest biobanks in the world for genetic, biochemical and epidemiological research. The large number of incident cancer cases with prospectively collected lifestyle data and blood specimens allow state-of-the-art investigations into the etiology and prevention of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases.