Smoking and Lung Cancer
During the years 1957 and 1958, Fisher became involved in a controversy over the issue of whether or not it had been established that smoking causes lung cancer. The seeds of the controversy were planted in a series of reports by Doll and Hill in the British Medical Journal, which showed a significant association between the incidence of smoking and the incidence of lung cancer in a retrospective study. There ensued, in 1957, much alarum in the editorial pages of the British Medical Journal, which Fisher felt to be unjustified, in the sense that hard scientific evidence of causation was yet to be found. In a series of letters, exchanges, and lectures, Fisher attempted to criticize the weakness of the evidence for causation, and to propose possible explanations for the observed effects which needed to be investigated. He also pointed to a seemingly absurd aspect of Doll and Hill’s data. This lecture reviews Fisher’s participation in the controversy.
KeywordsLung Cancer Smoking Habit British Medical Journal Genetic Theory Editorial Page
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Cornfield, J., et al. (1959). “Smoking and Lung Cancer: Recent Evidence and a Discussion of Some Questions,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 22, 173–203.Google Scholar
- “Dangers of Cigarette-Smoking” (1957). Editorial of British Medical Journal, 1, June 29, 1518–1520.Google Scholar
- Doll, R. and B. Hill (1952). “A Study of the Aetiology of Carcinoma of the Lung,” British Medical Journal, 2, December 13, 12 72–1286.Google Scholar
- “Geminus” (1958). “It Seems to Me,” New Scientist, 4, 440.Google Scholar
- Smoking and Health (1964). Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service. Public Health Service Publication No. 1103.Google Scholar