SANTA BARBARA — A researcher who testified in a $1-million wrongful death suit that smoking causes lung cancer later admitted "perhaps 80%" of smokers do not contract the disease.
Dr. Michael B. Shimkin acknowledged under cross-examination Wednesday that "most people who do smoke--even heavy smokers--do not get lung cancer."
Shimkin refused when pressed by R. J. Reynolds Co. attorneys to set the number at 90%, but said it is "a heavy number, perhaps 80%. . . . This is one of the many questions in medicine, why some of us have resistance to this and others do not."
However, Shimkin stuck by his original statements that studies have shown cigarettes cause lung cancer. He said many smokers in a study cited by Reynolds attorney Robert Weber may have had latent cancer cells, but died before they developed into clinical cases of cancer.
"Most of those, if they had lived long enough, would have developed lung cancer," Shimkin said.
Weber, in a harsh attack on Shimkin's testimony, cited numerous studies, including two which he claimed showed smokers were less likely to contract lung cancer than non-smokers. Shimkin said he had never heard of such a conclusion.