THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND CANCER
The EPIC study
The European Prospective into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, one of the largest cohort studies in the world, focuses on the relationship between diet and health. It is coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer which is part of the World Health Organization. More than half a million participants have been recruited across 10 European countries:
- United Kingdom.
The EPIC study aims to clarify the relationship between diet, environmental factors, lifestyles, and the incidence of cancer and of other chronic diseases. The authors of the study are examining the relationship between degree of adherence to the diet and incidence of cancer in a sample of 25,623 subjects. The researchers utilized a questionnaire to evaluate the degree of adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet and to assign a score of 0 to 10 to each participant. After approximately an 8 year follow-up, 851 cases of clinically confirmed cancer were uncovered. The authors were able to demonstrate that a stronger adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated to a lower incidence of global cancer. In particular, a two point increase of in the adherence score was found to correspond to a 12% reduction in cancer incidence. The EPIC study has, moreover, shown that assuming more components of the diet has a more pronounced effect than assuming single components of the diet. The EPIC study, which is still on-going, will furnish important scientific information about the relationship between food and disease.