Recruitment to the ABC Study began in October 2014 and closed in late 2018, with more than 80,000 Australian adults registering their interest online. Data collection ran from October 2014 until the end of 2018, with 56,348 participants completing the questionnaires.
Participants completed three online questionnaires, Family History, Health and Lifestyle and Diet.
- “Family History” asked about cancers that had been diagnosed in their close relatives
- “Health and Lifestyle” asked about early life including childhood living arrangements and pet ownership, body size, smoking, health conditions, use of medications and daily activities. Women completed additional questions regarding pregnancies and menopause, if applicable.
- “Diet” asked about eating habits and alcohol consumption.
These questionnaires captured detailed information about lifestyle factors to enable researchers to better understand the impact these factors may have on health outcomes.
Over 51,500 participants also provided a saliva sample. They were sent a special saliva collection kit, which they completed and returned by post.
The saliva sample will be used as a source of DNA to study the link between genetics and the development of cancer and other diseases.
Some participants were invited to also provide a blood sample by attending a pathology centre nearby. Over 10,000 participants gave blood samples between June 2015 and August 2018.
Blood samples will allow the researchers to examine a wider range of measures (plasma proteins, vitamins, phospholipid membrane fatty acids, C reactive protein, circulating endogenous hormones) in addition to DNA. This allows them to analyse whether biomarkers (eg. hormones, markers of inflammation), or certain drugs or micronutrients (eg. aspirin, vitamins) have associations with cancer that vary depending on a person’s underlying genetic risk.
The ABC Accelerometer Study collected data on physical activity and sitting time for approximately 4,000 participants. Participants were asked to wear two small monitoring devices (an accelerometer and inclinometer) to measure their movement patterns over a period of seven consecutive days.
The information collected from these devices will provide a clearer picture of how much time individuals spend in different types of reclining, sitting and moving activities. This information will help scientists to understand how different patterns of sitting or moving are associated with the development of cancer and other diseases.