In a recent editorial, Wynder1 deplores the tendency among public health researchers to focus on questions relating to uncommon rather than common diseases. A conference on the issue of vinyl chloride carcinogenesis, for instance, is likely to get more participation than one on tobacco carcinogenesis. Rather than concentrate on the rare and exotic, Wynder suggests that investigators ask questions that are answerable and immediately relevant to preventive or therapeutic practice.
Why is it, we should ask, that cardiovascular disease, most cancers, and most chronic diseases occur with such varying incidence in different populations, and why does the incidence tend to change as individuals move from a low- to a high-risk area?... What better techniques are at hand to dissuade children from beginning to smoke?... How can we induce people to alter their life-styles in the direction of risk factor reduction?1(p265)
Contrasting views are voiced by Cerami.2 He