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Tracing the Cigarette’s Path From Sexy to Deadly
By Howard Markel, MD

(...) The years after World War II, however, were a time of major breakthroughs in epidemiological thought. In 1947, Richard Doll and A. Bradford Hill of the British Medical Research Council created a sophisticated statistical technique to document the association between rising rates of lung cancer and increasing numbers of smokers. The prominent surgeon Evarts A. Graham and a medical student, Ernst L. Wynder, published a landmark article in 1950 comparing the incidence of lung cancer in their nonsmoking and smoking patients at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. They concluded that “cigarette smoking, over a long period, is at least one important factor in the striking increase in bronchogenic cancer.” Predictably, the tobacco companies derided these and other studies as mere statistical arguments or anecdotes rather than definitions of causality.


In the 1980s, scientists established the revolutionary concept that nicotine is extremely addictive. The tobacco companies publicly rejected such claims, even as they took advantage of cigarettes’ addictive potential by routinely spiking them with extra nicotine to make it harder to quit smoking. And their marketing memorandums document advertising campaigns aimed at youngsters to hook whole new generations of smokers.
(www.nytimes.com/2007/03/20/health. Adaptado.)

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