Denis Parsons Burkitt

Denis Parsons Burkitt
Denis Parsons Burkitt

Denis Parsons Burkitt
Born 28 February 1911
Enniskillen
Died 23 March 1993 (aged 82)
Gloucester
Nationality United Kingdom
Fields Surgeon
Known for Burkitt's lymphoma, Cancer

Denis Parsons Burkitt (28 February 1911 – 23 March 1993), surgeon, was born in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland. He was the son of James Parsons Burkitt. Aged eleven he lost his right eye in an accident. He attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen and Dean Close School, England. In 1929 Burkitt entered Trinity College, Dublin, to study engineering but believing his evangelical calling was to be a doctor he transferred to medicine. In 1938 he passed the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons fellowship examinations. On 28 July 1943 he married Olive Rogers.

During World War II, Burkitt served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in England and later in Kenya and Somaliland. After the war Burkitt decided his future lay in medical service in the developing world and he moved to Uganda. He eventually settled in Kampala and remained there until 1964.

Contents

Burkitt's lymphoma

Burkitt 'made two major contributions to medical science related to his experience in Africa. The first was the description, distribution, and ultimately, the etiology of a pediatric cancer that bears his name Burkitt's lymphoma'.[1]

Burkitt in 1957 observed a child with swellings in the angles of the jaw. 'About two weeks later...I looked out the window and saw another child with a swollen face...and began to investigate these jaw tumors'.[2] 'Having an intensely enquiring mind, Burkitt took the details of these cases to the records department...which showed that jaw tumours were common, [and] were often associated with other tumours at unusual sites'[3] in children in Uganda. He kept copious notes and 'concluded that these apparently different childhood cancers were all manifestations of a single, hitherto unrecognized tumour complex'.[4] Burkitt published A sarcoma involving the jaws of African children (British Journal of Surgery, vol. 46, 1958, pp. 218–23). The newly identified cancer became known as Burkitt's lymphoma. He went on to map the geographical distribution of the tumour. Burkitt, together with Dr Dennis Wright,[5] published a book titled 'Burkitt's Lymphoma' in April 1970.

Dietary fibre

His second major contribution came when, on his return to Britain, Burkitt compared the pattern of diseases in African hospitals with Western diseases. He concluded that many Western diseases which were rare in Africa were the result of diet and lifestyle. He wrote a book Don't Forget Fibre in your Diet (1979), which was an international best-seller.

Although one study showed that people who eat very low levels of fiber—less than 10 grams per day—had an 18 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer, the more general idea that colon cancer is a fiber deficiency disease is now generally considered incorrect by cancer researchers.[6] Nevertheless, research suggests that a diet high in dietary fiber is advised as a precaution against other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.[7] He had an alternate theory, published in numerous articles and books, that the use of the natural squatting position for defecation protects the natives of Africa and Asia from gastrointestinal diseases. This theory has never been tested and is now gaining more attention as a promising direction for research.

Burkitt was president of the Christian Medical Fellowship and wrote frequently on religious/medical themes. He received the Bower Award and Prize in 1992. He died on 23 March 1993 in Gloucester and was buried in Bisley, Gloucestershire, England.

Publications by Burkitt

Academic journals

  • Burkitt DP Varicose Veins, Deep Vein Thrombosis, and Haemorrhoids: Epidemiology and Suggested Aetiology British Medical Journal, 1972;2:556-561
  • Burkitt DP Some diseases characteristic of modern Western civilization British Medical Journal 1973;1;274-278
  • Burkitt DP Hiatus hernia: is it preventable? Am J Clin Nutr 34:428, 1981.

Books

  • Trowell HC Burkitt DP Western Diseases: Their Emergence and Prevention (1981)

References

  1. ^ R. G. McKinnell, The Biological Basis of Cancer (Cambridge 2005) p. 257
  2. ^ Denis P. Burkitt, "Discovering Burkitt's Lymphoma" in Paul H. Levine, Epstein-Barr Virus and Human Disease (Humana Press 1987) p. xxi
  3. ^ M. Anthony Epstein, "The Origins of EBV Research" in Erle S. Robertson, Epstein-Barr Virus (2005) p. 2
  4. ^ Epstein, "Origins" p. 2
  5. ^ Biography Dennis Wright
  6. ^ Doubts cast on fiber's effect on cancer - The Boston Globe
  7. ^ Dietary Fiber Intake and Risk of Colorectal Cancer - JAMA

Bibliography

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

External links


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  • Denis Parsons Burkitt — Naissance 28 février 1911 Enniskillen (Irlande) Décès 23 mars 1993 (âgé de 82 ans) Gloucester (Royaume Uni) Nationalité britannique Champs chirurgien et cancérologue Diplômé de Edinburgh Royal College of Surg …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Denis Parsons Burkitt — (* 28. Februar 1911 in Enniskillen in der Grafschaft Fermanagh in Nordirland; † 23. März 1993 in Gloucester, England) war ein britischer (nordirischer) Chirurg und Tropenmediziner. Bekannt geworden ist Burkitt vor allem durch die Erstbeschreibung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • James Parsons Burkitt — (1870 1959) was a civil engineer; he was County Surveyor in County Fermanagh from 1900 until his retirement in 1940. Burkitt was a keen amateur ornithologist and studied European Robins in the garden of his home (called Lawnakilla) near… …   Wikipedia

  • Burkitt, Denis Parsons — ▪ 1994       Irish physician (b. Feb. 28, 1911, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland d. March 23, 1993, England), recognized the significance of varying climatic conditions and eating habits in the incidence of cancer and certain other diseases. His… …   Universalium

  • Burkitt , Denis Parsons — (1911–1993) British surgeon Born in Enniskillen, now in Northern Ireland, Burkitt attended Dublin University, receiving his BA in 1933 and MB in 1935. Having become a fellow of Edinburgh s Royal College of Surgeons in 1938, Burkitt served in the… …   Scientists

  • Denis Burkitt — Denis Parsons Burkitt (* 28. Februar 1911 in Enniskillen in der Grafschaft Fermanagh in Nordirland; † 23. März 1993 in Gloucester, England) war ein britischer (nordirischer) Chirurg und Tropenmediziner. Bekannt geworden ist Burkitt vor allem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Burkitt — Denis Parsons Burkitt (* 28. Februar 1911 in Enniskillen in der Grafschaft Fermanagh in Nordirland; † 23. März 1993 in Gloucester, England) war ein britischer (nordirischer) Chirurg und Tropenmediziner. Bekannt geworden ist Burkitt vor allem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Burkitt — is a surname, and may refer to:* Francis Crawford Burkitt, British theologian * Denis Parsons Burkitt, surgeon **Burkitt s lymphoma * James Parsons Burkitt, ornithologist * William Burkitt * Lee Burkitt …   Wikipedia

  • Burkitt-Tumor —   [ bəːkɪt ], Burkitt Lymphom, von dem britischen Tropenarzt Denis Parsons Burkitt (* 1911, ✝ 1993) bei Kindern in Uganda 1958 beschriebenes bösartiges Lymphom, das meist im Gesichtsbereich auftritt. Der Burkitt Tumor kommt im tropischen Afrika,… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Burkitt's lymphoma — Infobox Disease Name = Burkitt s lymphoma Caption = Burkitt lymphoma, touch prep, Wright stain DiseasesDB = 1784 ICD10 = ICD10|C|83|7|c|81 ICD9 = ICD9|200.2 ICDO = 9687/3 | OMIM = 113970 MedlinePlus = eMedicineSubj = med eMedicineTopic = 256… …   Wikipedia

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