The EPIC Study

EPIC Study on Lifestyle and Health 

A study in 2009 was published by the Archives of Internal Medicine performed by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), which explored the relationship between lifestyle behaviors and chronic disease development.  This is a fascinating research project to me, knowing that the majority of chronic illness that most Americans suffer from is preventable and reversible by living a healthy lifestyle.  Let’s dive into the qualifications and the results of this study.  

23,000 people were examined over an 8-year period, and tracked based on who followed 4 simple behaviors versus those who did not.  These behaviors are basic healthy living guidelines, which are not overly difficult to follow. 

  1. No Smoking.  We know smoking is one of the poorest lifestyle decisions we can make which will impact our health. 
  2. Exercising 3.5 hours per week.  Averaging 30 minutes per day, combining cardiovascular training and muscle resistance exercises. 
  3. Keeping BMI under 30.  BMI (Body Mass Index) is a relationship between height and weight.  30 is the cutoff for obesity, so these people did not have to be super thin, they just could not qualify as obese. 
  4. Eating a Healthy Diet.  The diet guidelines consisted of fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, whole grains, moderate amounts of meat, and limited amounts of alcohol. 

The results of the people who followed these 4 behaviors versus those who did not  are astonishing.  In the group who followed the behaviors, 93% of diabetes was prevented.  81% of heart attacks and 50% of strokes were prevented.  36% of all cancers were prevented.  And the most important measurement of all determined that people who followed these 4 behaviors had 14 additional years of life. Think of what you can do in 14 years!

What if I told you that there was a pill that could prevent all these diseases, guarantee you will live longer, and have absolutely no negative side effects?  Would you take it every morning?  I’d take 5 per day.  The problem is that pill obviously does not exist, but healthy life choices do.  We say it time and time again that the key to health is making good decisions and living a correct lifestyle.  We know that things like genetics can play a role and make achieving health more difficult for some individuals, but when it comes to chronic disease the underlying culprit is usually a poor lifestyle.  Do what you can today to ensure a healthy tomorrow.  

Reference to the EPIC study: 

Ford ES, Bergmann MM, Kroger J, Schienkiewitz A, Weikert C, Boeing H. Healthy living is the best revenge: findings from the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition-Potsdam study. Arch Intern Med. 2009 Aug 10;169(15):1355-1362.