The smoking and cancer relationship has for so long been an argument between the manufacturers, consumers, and public health experts/scientists. The Doll and Hill (1950) report was an eye opener,1 that made the cigarette manufacturing companies admit but not completely concede to the cause and effect. Because of these companies flip flopping, there is still confusion about the link between smoking and its effects with respect to causing cancer.2 The experiments that have been performed so far have not been definitive in proving that smoking causes cancer, even though they do show a likelihood. The fact that the studies have been limited can be attributed to several dynamics.
The number one limitation in an experiment/study that would evaluate cause and effect between smoking and cancer would be, meeting the Favorable Risk-benefit code. This code of ethics in research requires that individuals be subjected to minimal harm, and that the individual benefits should supersede the potential risks from the experiment/study.3 The latter is difficult to achieve since the experiment’s main goal would be determining cause and effect, rather not finding a cure. What this means is that in the experiment, individuals would have to be subjected to smoking and they would have no hope of ever being relieved from the dangers that would come as a result of the exposure. This kind of study would turn into another Tuskegee saga were individuals were exposed to Syphilis and even though a cure became available later in the study, it was never administered to the subjects.4
Another huddle in conducting and experiment to reveal a profound cause of cancer from smoking, would be duration of experiment. The known cancers associated with smoking, have been determined by examining bodies/organs and reviewing records of deceased cancer patients with a known history of smoking.1 This evidence is usually refuted by cigarette manufacturers, claiming that the individuals in the examined cases may have had other causes other than smoking.2 In addition the smoking effects of cancer are believed to be gradual for example; respiratory, breast, and colon cancer are believed to occur after 25,30, and 35 years respectively.1 Therefore a definitive study/experiments would have to take at least 50 years.
Other summarized limitations in conducting a cause and effect experiment for smoking and cancer include; the longevity of the studies would prove to be costly, the experimental subjects may drop out due to unrelated reasons like accidents and diseases causing a selection mortality which is a threat to validity,5 the tobacco industry is a multibillion business around the world and would do anything to sabotage any studies that would affect their sells.2 Additionally, there are other side effects from smoking like cardiovascular disease, addiction from the nicotine that could be a factor among participants.2...