In this 1969 internal Philip Morris (PM) memo, Jetson E. "Jet" Lincoln, then Director of Marketing Research for Philip Morris U.S.A., proposes a theory for lung cancer causation that attempts to associate the onset of lung cancer with overeating.
We are looking for an alternate explanation of the 'excess mortality' which many statistical studies find to be associated with cigarette smoking...Ideally, we need to find in one factor generalized cause of excess mortality from a wide range of diseases, and a particular cause for a disproportionate bulge in lung cancer mortality...This memorandum will discuss some ways in which the over eating theory appears to relate specifically to lung cancer.
Lincoln was promoted to Vice President of Strategic Research at PM in 1985.
The memo was sent to Ross R. Millhiser, President of PM Domestic (the precursor of PM USA) in 1969.
PHILIP MORRIS U.S.A.
100 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Date: March 7, 1969
To: Mr. RR Millhiser
From: JE Lincoln
Subject: "Over Eating" and the Cigarette Controversy--#4
We are looking for an alternate explanation of the "excess mortality" which any statistical studies find to be associated with cigarette smoking.
Ideally, we need to find in one factor a generalized cause of excess mortality from a wide range of diseases, and a particular cause for a disproportionate bulge in lung cancer mortality. Previous memorandum have focused on the total mortality aspects. This memorandum will discuss some ways in which the over eating theory appears to relate specifically to lung cancer.
The points covered will include one case where the over eating theory appears to fit the reported facts equally as well as the cigarette causation theory, and six cases where the over eating theory appears to fit the reported facts much better than does the cigarette causation theory.
...3. Lung cancer incidence appears to be higher in urban areas than in rural area, and this difference is greater than can be explained on the basis of differences in smoking patterns. While country people are thought to have hearty appetites, their energy expenditures are presumably quite high. Thus, their food consumption in relation to their expenditure of physical energy may well be lower then in the cities.
4. Haenzel has pointed out that lung cancer incidence among rural people who migrate to the cities is clearly greater than lung cancer incidence among either life-long rural people or life-long city dwellers. It is inconceivable that this fact can be explained by cigarette consumption differentials. On the other hand, it is not at all difficult to imagine that the country boy would develop a hearty appetite, bring it with him to the city and continue to eat heavily, even though his physical energy expenditure dropped sharply after he became a city dweller...
Related tobacco industry documents
- Jetson E. Lincoln, Philip Morris Over Eating, Cigarette Smoking, and Mortality--#3 Clarification of the Behavior of the "Former" Smokers, January 15, 1969. Bates No. HK0387033/7037
- Jetson E. Lincoln, Philip Morris Cigarette Smoking, Food Consumption, and Mortality Memorandum. November 21, 1968. Bates No. HK0387084/7085