Richard Doll at 85

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7115.1031 (Published 25 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1031

Richard Doll and Richard Peto

  1. Richard Smith, Editor
  1. BMJ

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    Sir Richard Doll, perhaps Britain's most eminent doctor, is 85 this week. He illustrates how much can be achieved by older people: as well as writing the editorial on this page, he has played an important part in the three “big” medical papers published in Britain in the past two weeks (on hormone replacement therapy and breast cancer in the Lancet and on passive smoking in the BMJ) and written a piece on wine and heart disease for our Christmas issue. He will also be giving the keynote address at our conference next October to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the streptomycin trial, one of the first randomised controlled trials.

    Sir Richard is best known for his work on smoking and health. The work led to first himself, then doctors, and then much of the general population stopping smoking. The reduction in tobacco deaths in middle age has been greater in Britain than any other country. About half of those who smoke are killed by the habit, while among those who have never smoked or who have stopped 80% survive to 70 and 33% to 85. Two thirds of the ex-smokers who have survived to 85 would have died if they'd carried on smoking. They owe their lives to Sir Richard.

    Sir Richard will deliver a birthday lecture, “Nature and nurture in cancer control,” at 1 pm on 28 October in the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford. The BMJ wishes Sir Richard a happy birthday and thanks him for some of the best papers we have published in the past 50 years.

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