Mega study to investigate common diseases

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Mega study to investigate common diseases

Researchers expect new findings in the fight against cancer, diabetes, dementia and other widespread diseases from a hitherto unprecedented large study that is due to start in 2014. Germany's largest long-term medical study to date is intended to help improve disease prevention and treatment.

200,000 people - for 20 years From 2014, an unprecedented study is expected to provide insights into the fight against cancer, diabetes, dementia and other common diseases. Around 200,000 people between the ages of 20 and 69 should take part in Germany's largest long-term medical study to date, as Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka (CDU) explained in Berlin. The main aim of the study, which is to run for more than 20 years, is to examine the influence of environmental conditions, genes, lifestyle and social environment on the development of widespread diseases. Wanka explained that the research project offers "the great opportunity to achieve an enormous surge in knowledge in the fight against common diseases such as cancer" and "We have to seize this opportunity for better prevention."

Question about the development of chronic diseases In Germany, a good quarter of all deaths can now be attributed to cancer. In 2011, almost 221,600 patients died from it. In the case of cardiovascular diseases, there were even more at around 342,000. Diabetes was diagnosed in 4.6 million people and 1.4 million suffer from dementia, with an upward trend. Around a third more people in Germany are now developing diabetes than ten years ago and almost one in three has high blood pressure. The study hopes that answers will be found to the question of what causes chronic diseases and which factors favor them.

Second examination after five years In one of 18 study centers nationwide, the participants are to be examined medically and asked about their living conditions and habits, such as nutrition, work, smoking and physical activity. All participants should be invited to a second examination after about five years. In order to see whether and which diseases occur, they should continue to be observed.

Wide range of examinations Among other things, blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar are to be examined, as well as lung function, dental health and mental abilities. The program also includes: eye exams, hearing tests and smell tests. Fitness and body weight should also be examined carefully. In addition, examinations in a magnetic resonance tomograph (MRT) are planned. Blood, urine, DNA and tissue samples are taken in order to investigate environmental influences such as air pollution and food, metabolic factors such as hormones or genetic variants. Risk factors such as infections, chronic inflammation or stress are important for some chronic diseases such as certain types of cancer, recent studies suggest.

210 million euros costs According to the information, the costs of the mega-study total 210 million euros. The federal government, 14 federal states and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers are funding the project, which includes 13 German universities. A number of so-called cohort studies with a total of up to 100,000 study participants are currently underway. According to the ministry, however, these were planned independently of one another, so that the data collected could only be partially merged. In addition, the participants are usually over 50 years old on average. The National Health Study is now expected to provide far more comprehensive and uniform data.

Invitation by post from the beginning of 2014 In order to win the 200,000 participants for the record study, an invitation to participate was sent to 400,000 randomly selected citizens by post from the beginning of 2014, the Federal Research Minister announced on Monday. Participation is voluntary and you can also specify whether you want to be informed about the results of the investigation or not. Federal Research Minister Wanka called on the population to participate. "The research project will enable us to live a healthier life." (Ad)

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