Researchers in Canada are set to follow 300,000 residents for a study of the causes of cancer and other chronic disease, according to an announcement published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2010 Apr 26 [Epub ahead of print]).

“This cohort will, in time, form the foundation for a major research platform for the study of disease causation, both nationally and internationally,” said Marilyn Borugian, PhD, of the Cancer Control Research Program of the British Columbia Cancer Agency, and colleagues.

The study, known as The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, will enroll patients aged 35 to 69 years from across Canada and follow them for at least 25 years. The long-term prospective study is designed to avoid the limitations of retrospective, case-control studies and allow for a better understanding of why some individuals within the study group develop cancer and other do not. In addition, the project will allow researchers to study chronic diseases other than cancer in relation to health services usage and outcomes data generated by provincial health services programs.

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For the study, participants will be answer questionnaires, provide blood and urine samples, and have their physical measurements recorded. Researchers will also collect data on the patients from registries or provincial health services to track outcomes.

“If advances in preventing these diseases are to be realized, better information is needed about their causes and the antecedents of the causes,” the researchers wrote. “For example, although it is known that many sporadic cancers are caused by a combination of lifestyle factors, exposure to environmental carcinogens, and individual genetic makeup, detailed knowledge about the interplay among these factors is lacking.”