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Environmental Health

, 10:S13

First Online: 05 April 2011DOI: 10.1186-1476-069X-10-S1-S13

Cite this article as: Cairns, J. Environ Health 2011 10Suppl 1: S13. doi:10.1186-1476-069X-10-S1-S13


The prevention of the infectious diseases was accomplished long before there was any understanding of the molecular biology of bacteria and viruses. As for cancer, the sharp drop in frequency of the once-commonest lethal cancer, stomach cancer, was achieved without any contribution from biological research, and the current drop in lung cancer is the end-result of the observation by epidemiologists that most lung cancer is caused by smoking. So the basis for both these triumphs was essentially empirical and owed nothing to biological research. This paper discusses how molecular biology can now offer the possibility of large-scale protection against cancer.

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Author: John Cairns


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