Annual Advances in Cancer Prevention Lecture:
Re-visiting the Causes of Cancer
Sir Richard Peto, FRS, is Professor of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford, UK, and Co-Director of the Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU). He collaborated for decades with Richard Doll on cancer epidemiology, and in 1981, they co-authored an influential report, “The Causes of Cancer – Quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the US today” (JNCI 66:1191). Since then, his close attention to the details of how epidemiological evidence and trial evidence is interpreted has shown that the importance of factors such as tobacco, blood pressure and cholesterol have been much underestimated: we actually know more than we thought we did about major avoidable causes of cancer and of vascular disease.
In 1989, Peto was made a Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.) of London for introducing meta-analyses of randomised trials, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1999 for services to epidemiology, and received in 2010 and 2011 the Cancer Research UK and the BMJ Lifetime Achievement Award.