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November 7, 1977

Smoking and Cancer

Author Affiliations

Edinboro State College Edinboro, Pa
Rockford College Rockford, III

JAMA. 1977;238(19):2015. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280200027005

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To the Editor.—  While reading the article "The Respiratory Effects of Chloromethyl Methyl Ether" (234: 1139, 1975) by Weiss and Boucot, we were surprised to find a report of an inverse relationship between the amount of smoking and the incidence of cancer in this special group. Since these results would appear to be inconsistent with the research that has been reported, we would like to raise some questions concerning their procedures:

  1. The number of cases of those getting cancer in the categories considered was quite small for accurate analysis with the chi-square technique that the authors used.

  2. Ex-smokers and pipe-cigar smokers were incorporated in the category of nonsmoker. This appears to be an invalid categorization.

  3. It is uncertain from the definition of nonsmoker used in the study as to whether the persons assigned to the nonsmoking category had never smoked at all or were actually former smokers