Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations On the Contrary

Let us now praise famous men and women

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 13 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7605
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor, BMJ
  1. tdelamothe{at}

Richard Doll and the BMJ (and BMA) go back a long way together

Notoriously forgetful, science has made an exception for Richard Doll. The 100th anniversary of his birth was marked by a reception at Green-Templeton College, Oxford. Three days of presentations followed at the Richard Doll Building, which houses part of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division. According to Richard Peto, the driving force behind the celebrations, every major epidemiological study of smoking was represented at the meeting.

Both the Lancet and BMJ published articles to coincide with the anniversary. The Lancet’s Million Women Study reported that among UK women smoking causes two thirds of all deaths of smokers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s; smokers lose at least 10 years of life.1 The BMJ’s Life Span Study found that Japanese men and women who smoke from early adulthood also lose about 10 years of life, settling the question of whether the Japanese people were truly “different” when it came to the effects of smoking.2 A coauthor of both papers, Peto …

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