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Epidemiology And The Prevention Of Cancer: Some Recent Developments

R. Doll
Published 2004 · Biology, Medicine

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Epidemiology, like other branches of medical science, advances for the most part slowly on a broad front. Occasionally, however, observations are made that alter our thinking about the way disease is produced, open up qualitatively new methods for the control of disease, or lead to such effective intervention that the results can be seen in a change in the trend of mortality in a whole country. One such change in thinking occurred about 20 years ago, when the cumulative effect of a series of epidemiological observations made it clear that all types of cancer that were at all common anywhere varied greatly in incidence, always 5 times, often 50 times, and occasionally 500 times, and that most of this variation could be explained only by differences in the environment or in the way people behaved. It followed that a large proportion of all cancers were, at least in principle, avoidable.
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