Towards good epidemiological practices

  • Ernest L. Wynder
Conference paper


If I had read the much discussed article by G. Taubes (1995) in Science entitled “Epidemiology faces its limits” as a young person, I would probably never have entered this field. Yet, I firmly believe that, in the realm of all sciences that are part of the many disciplines of medicine, epidemiology is the key. Having studied demographics, lifestyles, and disease patterns for more than four decades, I firmly believe that most of the chronic diseases of our time are not inevitable consequences of ageing, but rather that they relate to metabolic overload. As M. Skzlo stated in his presentation, we need to define what is “optimal” in terms of physiologic and metabolic norms and what is optimal in lifestyles. A systolic blood pressure of 130 and a serum cholesterol level of 200 mg/dl is not optimal. Clearly, smoking of tobacco or marijuana is also not optimal. If most people had a blood pressure of 110/70, and a cholesterol level of 140 mg/d, and if most adults abstained from smoking, coronary artery disease would be rare indeed. As epidemiologists, we need to recognise that we do not only perform descriptive work but that, on the basis of translational research data coming from environmental chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biochemistry and from various clinical observations and data, we need to be equally involved in the application of preventive strategies and in monitoring the effects of intervention. Those among us who discover risk factors should also make certain that — once identified — such factors are reduced or eliminated.


Breast Cancer Puerperal Fever Nasal Turbinate Diesel Engine Exhaust Good Epidemiological Practice 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernest L. Wynder
    • 1
  1. 1.New YorkUSA

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