Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

The leading cause of death in the US

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 03 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3079
  1. Douglas Kamerow, senior scholar, Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, and associate editor, The BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

Even in the pandemic, don’t forget tobacco

Are you tired of hearing about covid-19? I am too. So, here’s a tirade about something completely different: the leading cause of death in the United States.

Since at least 1993, when McGinnis and Foege published their landmark paper quantifying the risk factors that contribute to US deaths, it has been clear that the leading cause of death here is not cardiovascular disease, or cancer, or chronic pulmonary disease; it is smoking.1 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was a bit slow to come around to this view, but it confirmed and …

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