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Doctor criticised after saying cancer is 'the best way to die'

Robert Smith recognised his comments represented “a romantic view of dying”.

Image: Shutterstock/

A DOCTOR AND former editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has been criticised after saying cancer is ‘the best way to die’.

Writing in the BMJ, Richard Smith said people with the disease have an opportunity to reflect on life before it ends, something not afforded to those who die suddenly.

Smith said dying from dementia or organ failure is a much worse fate.

“The long, slow death from dementia may be the most awful as you are slowly erased, but then again when death comes it may be just a light kiss.

“Death from organ failure—respiratory, cardiac, or kidney—will have you far too much in hospital and in the hands of doctors.

So death from cancer is the best … You can say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favourite pieces of music, read loved poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion.

“This is, I recognise, a romantic view of dying, but it is achievable with love, morphine, and whisky. But stay away from overambitious oncologists, and let’s stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, potentially leaving us to die a much more horrible death.”

In the article, Smith also urged charities and the medical world to “stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer”.

Cancer Research UK were among those to criticise his comments, labelling them “nihilistic”.

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Do you agree with Smith?

Poll Results:

 Yes, he has a point (4478)
 No, he's being very insensitive (3022)
 I'm not sure (1608)

Originally published: 20.40

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Órla Ryan

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