The ABC Study is an epidemiological longitudinal cohort study. Epidemiological studies investigate the incidence, distribution and control of diseases. The study is collecting health related information from a large group of people and following their state of health over a long period of time. This type of study attempts to identify the factors that lead to disease, and factors that prevent disease, so that steps can be taken towards prevention.
The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS)
Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Epidemiology and Intelligence Division (CEID) has been conducting the longitudinal cohort study, MCCS, since 1990. MCCS was set up to investigate the roles of diet and lifestyle in causing cancer and other diseases. MCCS is also known as Health 2020.
MCCS involves more than 41,000 Melbourne residents who joined between 1990 and 1994. On joining, participants were interviewed and information was collected about their health, diet and lifestyle, clinical measures were made (e.g. blood pressure, body measurements) and a blood sample was taken.
The study aims to follow this group of people over a long period of time to see who develops diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Some major findings include:
New Biomarkers Identify Lethal Prostate Cancer
CEID led research has identified potential biomarkers that may assist in identifying the most lethal prostate cancers. If the findings of this preliminary study are validated and found to be useful in clinical practice, men with less aggressive prostate cancer could avoid unnecessary surgery.
Support for a Mediterranean diet
Findings from another MCCS study have supported recommendations for the consumption of a Mediterranean style diet to help protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Alcohol and diabetes risk
Some MCCS studies suggest that alcohol consumed at ‘low risk’ levels is not associated with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes. However, a high daily intake of alcohol (more or = 210 g/day), even on only 1-3 days a week, may increase the risk of diabetes in men.
Exercise and bowel cancer survival
Research from MCCS provides new evidence of the importance of exercise in health - in this case, the effect of exercise and body weight on cancer survival.
Other major findings from similar studies
Smoking – lung cancer
The link between smoking and an increased risk in lung cancer was confirmed in 1954 by Richard Doll and Bradford Hill in England.
Asprin – prostate cancer
Epidemiological studies have demonstrated that aspirin use may reduce mortality from prostate cancer.
Prone sleeping – SIDS
The association between sleeping infants on their stomachs and an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome was discovered through epidemiological research. This led to the very successful ‘Reducing the risks campaign’.
Obesity - cancer
Epidemiological studies have shown that obesity is associated with a higher risk of developing cancers of the breast (among postmenopausal women), colon and rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), kidney, pancreas, oesophagus, thyroid and gallbladder.