The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Potsdam Study is a population-based prospective cohort study. It includes around 27,500 participants. At the start of the study in 1994, the women were 35 to 64 years old and the men were 40 to 64 years old. With its extensive database, the EPIC-Potsdam study serves as the basis for population-based epidemiological research at the DIfE. The research results help to create the scientific basis for possible preventive measures and to improve the health of the population.
The EPIC-Potsdam Study was carried out under the direction of apl. Prof. Dr. Heiner Boeing until 2019. The scientific management of the study was taken over by Prof. Dr. Matthias Schulze , head of the Department of Molecular Epidemiology, early 2019.
In a prospective cohort study such as EPIC-Potsdam, a group of initially healthy people is examined for certain exposure characteristics, such as the nutritional behavior. The study participants are then observed for the occurrence of diseases over a longer period of time. The advantage of this type of study is that risk factors are recorded before the onset of a disease and therefore cannot be a consequence of the disease.
Between 1994 and 1998, potential study participants were drawn from the population registers of Potsdam and the surrounding area using a random procedure. The participants were invited to the study center, examined extensively (e.g. measuring blood pressure and determining body dimensions) and asked about their eating habits and lifestyle. Blood samples were also taken, which we keep in our biobank.
In the subsequent study period, the so-called "follow-up", the study participants were repeatedly asked by mail to fill out questionnaires about their eating habits and lifestyle and to report any illnesses that had occurred in the meantime. The self-reports on the illnesses are then confirmed and specified more precisely with the help of medical documents, registers or physicians. So far there have been six postal survey rounds. Thanks to funding from the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), it has been possible since 2014 to invite a limited number of participants to a follow-up examination, in which they are extensively examined and questioned. This includes a detailed dietary assessment, anthropometric measurements, the recording of physical performance characteristics and the examination of physical and mental functions. The collection of biological samples is also part of it again. The follow-up observation of the study participants, the storage of the biological samples and the data management are supervised by the DIfE Human Study Center.
The EPIC-Potsdam study is financed by public funds. The DIfE receives this from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the State of Brandenburg (MWFK). The DIfE received further funding from the former Federal Ministry for Education, Science, Research and Technology and the European Commission for the recruitment of study participants and from the German Cancer Aid and the European Union for the follow-up of the EPIC-Potsdam cohort. Further project-related funding comes among others by the BMBF, the German Research Foundation and the European Union (EU framework programs).