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UK scientist who linked smoking to cancer dies

July 25, 2005

UK scientist who linked smoking to cancer dies

By Peter Griffiths

LONDON (Reuters) - Sir Richard Doll, the British scientist whose research first established the link between smoking and lung cancer, has died aged 92. 

Oxford University said Doll, who gave up smoking after his groundbreaking work in the late 1940s, died on Sunday in hospital after a short illness. 

"His pioneering epidemiological work has led to the dramatic reduction in smoking rates in Britain over the past 50 years," John Hood, the university's vice-chancellor, said in a statement. 

Britain's epidemologist Sir Richard Doll, who discovered the link between smoking and cancer in 1951, is seen at the Anti-smoking Summit in this July 1997 file photo. Doll has died aged 92. (REUTERS/Files)
"This research has saved many millions of lives." One of the world's most renowned epidemiologists, Doll warned in a 1950 study, co-written with Sir Austin Bradford Hill, that smoking was a major cause of lung cancer. 

Their early results showed that smokers were much more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers, while longer-term results linked cigarettes to heart disease and other illnesses. 

"It wasn't long before it became clear that cigarette smoking may be to blame," Doll once said of his research. "I gave up smoking two-thirds of the way through that study." 

British people began to follow his lead. In 1954, 80 per cent of British adults smoked, compared to about a quarter now, government figures show. 

Doll caused controversy in 2001 when he said in a BBC radio interview that "the effects of other people smoking in my presence is so small it doesn't worry me". 

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1971 and received a string of international prizes, including the United Nations award for cancer research in 1962. 

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