Influential Event in the Development of Epidemiology

One of the most influential events that set a new trend not only for Epidemiology but for the lifestyles of millions of people around the world was the publishing of similar studies by Cuyler Hammond and Daniel Horn (1954) Richard Doll and Austin Hill (1956) which connected smoking and lung cancer. Both were longitudinal cohort studies that in the middle of the 1950s provided convincing statistical data that established a firm correlation between tobacco smoking and the development of lung cancer. Given the high prevalence of cigarette consumption at that time and deaths of lung cancer, these articles helped push science further by inspiring more research. Mendes (2014) argues that the earlier data was self-reported and it did not serve as reliable scientific proof until Hammond and Horn’s study was printed. It also relied on gathering patient history from people through questionnaires and from the perspective of data collection methods brought nothing new except for the scale of selection. In addition, the earlier study included only white men, excluding other categories of people.

Despite the debate over which study was more significant, there is a reason to believe that both of them issued in the same period produced a tremendous effect on the no-smoking movement. Both the American Cancer Society study and British Doctors Study gradually changed the attitudes of people towards smoking and resulted in harsh measures to ban smoking in public places. In the 1960s, the above-named studies led to massive smoking policy changes which decreased the smoking rate by almost half by the end of 2000 (Mendes, 2014). Therefore, the linkage of smoking to cancer can be considered one of the most significant events in the history of epidemiology. Continuous efforts of several scientists helped save millions of lives from lung cancer.


Doll, R., & Hill, A. B. (1956). Lung cancer and other causes of death in relation to smoking. British Medical Journal, 2(5001), 1071-1081.

Hammond, E. C., & Horn, D. (1954). The relationship between human smoking habits and death rates: A follow-up study of 187,766 men. Journal of the American Medical Association, 155(15), 1316-1328.

Mendes, E. (2014). The study that helped spur the U.S. Stop-smoking movement. Web.