An exciting new project is underway to do just that, and hopefully to help answer some of the outstanding questions. The EPIC-CVD component is a multi-centre prospective cohort study designed to investigate the relationships of nutrition with cancer and other major chronic disease outcomes.
The overall objective of EPIC-CVD is to make best possible use of the data and biological samples available in order to advance understanding about the separate and combined influences of lifestyle (especially dietary), environmental, metabolic and genetic factors in the development of CVDs, including coronary disease and stroke. In other words, with this EPIC-CVD work, we can look at a much wider range of factors, in more detail, in order to reach more reliable and specific conclusions.
The EPIC-CVD resource differs from many previous epidemiological investigations of CVDs in several ways that should increase its scientific value:
- It is large, involving over 500,000 adults, mostly aged 35-70 years, thereby enabling precise estimates of the impact of suspected risk factors.
- It is geographically diverse, with participants recruited from 23 centres in 10 European countries, providing an opportunity to investigate the impact of contrasts in various dietary and other exposures (as well as in CVD rates).
- It involves over 350,000 female participants, thereby enabling detailed analyses in women, which has not always been the case previously.
- It involves prospective monitoring of participants, the great majority of whom reported no history of cardiovascular or other recorded diseases at the initial examination, thereby minimising the influence of disease itself on the characteristics recorded at baseline (such as on dietary habits and biochemical factors).
- It contains information on a range of lifestyle and other exposures (notably dietary intake); as well as, in about three-quarters of participants, stored biological samples, enabling biochemical and genetic analyses.
- It monitors participants, after the initial examination, for cause-specific mortality and, in a large subset, for major cardiovascular morbidity.
This combination of features will enable EPIC-CVD to make a substantial contribution to the prevention and understanding of CVD by elucidating its determinants.