Health 2020, which is also referred to by its scientific title of Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study, was set up in 1990 to investigate the roles of diet and lifestyle in causing cancer and other diseases.
The study involves more than 41,000 Melbourne residents who joined between 1990 and 1994. On joining, Health 2020 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. Using the information gathered at the beginning of the study, it should be possible to identify what might have contributed to the development of disease.
Who funds Health 2020?
Health 2020 is one of Australia's largest prospective cohort studies and it has been supported since its beginning by Cancer Council Victoria. In recent years it has also received funding from VicHealth and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
Diet and lifestyle
When Health 2020 began, one of the questions it sought to answer related to earlier research showing that migrants from Southern Europe were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Health 2020 researchers were interested to see whether this was due to the diet and lifestyle of the migrants. Therefore Health 2020 included many migrants from Italy and Greece, and almost one third of Health 2020 participants were born outside Australia.
More recently, with advances in genetic research technology, Health 2020 has begun to focus on exploring the genetic causes of disease. Using the blood samples collected at the beginning of the study, researchers have been able to extract DNA. This has been used in many research studies within Australia and internationally.
Health 2020 follow-ups
From time to time, Health 2020 collects further information from study participants, updating data on health, diet and lifestyle.
What has Health 2020 found?
Health 2020 has resulted in over 800 scientific studies, with findings too numerous to report here. If you're interested in searching the internet for the scientific publications, the suggested search terms are: Health 2020; Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study; MCCS.
Summaries of some of the findings are also reported in the Health 2020 newsletters which can be downloaded below.
Health 2020 newsletters
Health 2020 newsletters are produced to keep participants up to date on the study's findings and provide further information about the study.
The data collected by Health 2020 is used by researchers at Cancer Council Victoria, but it is also available to other researchers for approved collaborative research. If you're a researcher interested in using Health 2020 resources, see our PEDIGREE program for more details.
Summaries of the data collected from Health 2020 participants at the time of joining the study (baseline) are available as Databooks. These enable researchers and other interested people to understand the nature and range of the information collected by Health 2020.
The Databooks are in four volumes, and describe each variable collected at baseline. For all categorical data, frequencies and cross-tabulations are provided. For continuous data, the Databooks provide frequencies, cross-tabulations and box plots by sex, country of birth and age group.