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NAKO Health Study

Why does one get sick, but the other stays healthy? Answers are provided by our long-term NAKO study.

What factors play a role in the occurrence of diseases? Is it the environment, the social environment or the situation at work? Is it nutrition? Is it the genes? A mixture of everything? Even though some research has already been done, the exact connections are still unknown. The NAKO Health Study aims to find answers to these questions.

Over a period of 20-30 years, 200,000 randomly selected citizens aged 20-69 years will undergo comprehensive medical examinations and be questioned about their lifestyle habits (e.g., physical activity, smoking, diet, occupation) in a total of 18 study centers throughout Germany. The NAKO Health Study is organized and conducted by a network of German research institutions consisting of the Helmholtz Association, universities and the Leibniz Association. The aim is to get to the bottom of the causes of widespread diseases such as cancer, diabetes, infectious diseases and heart attacks.

In the long term, NAKO scientists hope to find answers to the following central questions:

  • How do these diseases develop?
  • Are there factors that promote their development?
  • For example, what role do our genes, the environmental influences to which we are exposed, or our lifestyle play?
  • What role do social factors play?
  • Can we protect ourselves from these diseases?
  • How can these diseases be detected at an early stage?


  • The NAKO has a very large number of participants, 200,000 citizens.
  • Younger age groups from 20 years onwards are also involved in the study.
  • In all 18 study centers all examinations and surveys are carried out according to identical schedules and in a standardized manner. This ensures that the data collected are comparable with each other.
  • In five selected centers, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is performed on 30,000 study participants.
  • Second and third examinations take place during the course of the study.
  • The selection of examinations is based on the design of other European studies in order to make the data fundamentally comparable.
  • Inclusion of infectious diseases and immunological questions
  • In the course of the study, a total of approximately 28 million biospecimens will be collected and stored and will be available for scientific research.

As curious as we are? Discover more.