11/12/2012

Tobacco history info

Tobacco was apparently not even suspected as a cause of lung tumours until the final decade of the 19th century. In 1898, a medical student by the name of Hermann Rottmann in Würzburg proposed that tobacco dust—not smoke—might be causing the elevated incidence of lung tumours among German tobacco workers. Rottmann's mistake was not corrected until 1912, when Adler proposed that smoking might be to blame for the growing incidence of pulmonary tumours. Lung cancer was still a very rare disease; so rare, in fact, that medical professors when confronted with a case sometimes told their students they might never see another.3 By the 1920s, however, surgeons were encountering the malady with increasing frequency, and started puzzling over what might be responsible. Smoking was commonly blamed, along with asphalt dust from newly tarred roads, industrial air pollution and latent effects from exposure to poison gas in the First World War or the global influenza pandemic of 1918–1919. These and a number of other theories were put forward as possible explanations for the rise of lung cancer, until evidence from multiple sources of enquiry made it clear that tobacco was by far and away the leading culprit.

Converging lines of evidence

In the middle decades of the 20th century, four distinct lines of evidence converged to establish cigarette smoking as the leading cause of lung cancer. These are outlined below.

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