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Cancer Pioneer Dies at 92

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The first man to notice a connection between lung cancer and smoking cigarettes, Sir Richard Doll of Britain, has died of an undisclosed illness at the ripe age of 92.

In 1950, the prize-winning epidemiologist co-authored a study with Sir Austin Bradford Hill that warning that smoking was a major cause of lung cancer.

While the early results showed a definite link to lung cancer, Doll also noted a link to heart disease and other afflictions after more long-term studies.

He was so startled by the results he quit smoking before finishing the study.

“It wasn’t long before it became clear that cigarette smoking may be to blame,” Doll said. “I gave up smoking two-thirds of the way through that study.”

Doll and Hill are credited with saving millions of lives as British people responded to the news by dropping the habit as well. In the fifties, 80 percent of British adults smoked. The current rate of adult smokers has dropped to 25 percent.

A follow-up study released in 1954 stated that nearly two-thirds of people who began their habit while in their youth were killed by the choice.

“His pioneering epidemiological work has led to the dramatic reduction in smoking rates in Britain over the past 50 years,” John Hood, Oxford University’s vice-chancellor, said. “This research has saved many millions of lives.”

Awarded loads of international prizes for his work in cancer research, Richard Doll was dubbed Sir Richard Doll in 1971, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

As late as 2001, Doll did not believe second hand smoke to be harmful.

“The effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn’t worry me,” he reported during an interview with the BBC.

After a short illness, Sir Doll died at the equivalent of his home, the John Radcliffe Hospital at Oxford, where he had worked at the hospital’s Imperial Cancer Research Center.

Cancer Pioneer Dies at 92
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