1. ITV Report

'Stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer, it's the best way to die,' says former BMJ editor

Richard Smith says cancer gives patients a chance to reflect on life and say their goodbyes. Credit: BMJ

Cancer is the best way to die, according to a former editor of The British Medical Journal.

Richard Smith, who is chairman of the board of directors of medical smartphone app Patients Know Best, believes the opportunity to reflect on life before it ends is important.

In an article published in The BMJ, the 62-year-old wrote that while most people tell him they would prefer a sudden death, he thinks that is very hard on the families of the deceased.

He went on:

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.

– Richard Smith

More than 160,000 people died from cancer in Britain in 2012, according to Cancer Research UK, who say lung cancer was the most common killer.