The British Doctors’ Study (1951–2001)
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From 1951 to 2001, researchers at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, conducted the British Doctors’ Study, a study that examined the smoking habits, disease rates, and mortality rates of physicians in Britain. Two epidemiologists, scientists who study occurrence and distribution of disease, Richard Doll and Austin Bradford Hill, initiated the study, and statistician Richard Peto joined the team in 1971. The objective of the study was to assess the risks associated with tobacco use, and its relationship to lung cancer. The researchers tracked 34,439 male doctors practicing in Britain, and recorded smoking habits, development of diseases including lung cancer, other cancers, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and mortality rates. The researchers published updated results every ten years. In 1980, Doll and other researchers concluded a related study on the smoking habits and disease rates of female doctors practicing in Britain. The results of both studies provided evidence that individuals who smoked tobacco were more likely to develop chronic respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.