UK

Cancer Is The Best Way To Die And We Should Stop 'Wasting Billions' On Trying To Cure It, Doctor Says

01/01/2015 12:28 GMT | Updated 01/01/2015 12:59 GMT

We should stop "wasting billions" trying to cure cancer because it is "the best way to die".

That is the view of a leading doctor and former editor of one of Britain's most prestigious journals of medicine, The British Medical Journal.

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Richard Smith, who edited the BMJ for 13 years, wrote in a blog post:

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, the closest to the death that Buñuel wanted and had. 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.

Did Dr Smith, author of many thoughtful blogposts for the BMJ, intend the blogpost to provoke discussion about cancer in comparison with other diseases, without the notion of "the best way" to die being taken too seriously?

While nuance and irony are easily lost online, the Twitter reaction to the blogpost seemed to be remarkably and unexpectedly positive - which is to say, not everyone was tearing it to shreds.

Dr Smith, 62, is chair of the board of trustees of ICDDRB and chair of the board of Patients Know Best.

At the end of article, he declares an interest saying he "will die, perhaps soon".