Project Health 2000 (Now Health 2020) - 2003
The Cancer Council of Victoria

Recipient: Professor Graham Giles
Value: $90,000

The study is designed to increase the ability to measure the impact of diet and lifestyle on cancer. About 30% of the recruited study participants are Southern European migrants to Australia. Southern European migrants have a significantly reduced risk of cancers of the bowel, breast and prostate. Although their cancer rates increase in the first decade or so after their arrival, a reduction in the risk of about 30 per cent is still evident in these migrants 30 to 40 years later. The residual protection is considered to be lifestyle related, particularly in regard to diet.

Extensive information was collected from all study participants. It included physical measurements, measures of lean and fat mass, blood pressure, total cholesterol and glucose levels. Nearly all subjects provided blood samples and their fasting status was ascertained. The Health 2000 study is matched quarterly to cancer registries and death indices to monitor changes in the health of participants.

Analyses of dietary data show wide variations in eating patterns, from the traditional Aussie fare of meat and potatoes to the traditional Mediterranean diet, which has a far greater emphasis on vegetables. More than 50% of the Health 2000 participants were consuming the recommended intake of 5 or more serves per day, compared with 1 or 2% in the US Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals’ Study, neither of which found a protective effect of vegetable consumption. Thus, we should be able to determine the effects of high vegetable intakes.

Since the early 1990’s when they were first recruited into the study, several hundred people in Health 2000 have had cancer newly diagnosed. We are now comparing the data we have on more than 2,000 people who developed cancer with the data from those people who have remained free of cancer. The Picchi Brothers Foundation has assisted the study by funding the retrieval and analysis of tumour tissue from participants affected by breast - cancer.