Royal Society Publishing

Sir Richard Doll CH OBE. 28 october 1912 — 24 July 2005

Richard Peto, Valerie Beral


In 1950 Richard Doll and Bradford Hill (later Sir Austin Bradford Hill; FRS 1954) showed that smoking was a cause, and an important cause, of the rapidly increasing epidemic of lung cancer in the UK. In 1951 they started the prospective study of smoking and mortality in British doctors that Doll continued for 50 years, showing that half of all smokers are eventually killed by their habit and that stopping smoking is remarkably effective. Between 1950 and 2005, overall UK death rates decreased by half in middle age; more than half of this decrease was due to the decrease in mortality from smoking.