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'Strokes are smoke-related' EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: PAUL GILFEATHER Political Editor

MARGARET Thatcher could be dying from passive smoking.

Cancer Research UK boss Alex Markham has blamed Lady Thatcher's faltering health on late husband Denis's 60-a-day cigarette habit.

Professor Markham delivered his grave diagnosis while warning about the dangers of inhaling secondary smoke. He claimed the former Prime Minister was ravaged from smoking-related diseases.

And the cancer expert rubbished claims made in a TV debate by pro-smoking campaigner and artist David Hockney that the habit was safe.

Hockney said that businessman Denis lived to 86 in spite of his addiction, while non-smoker Baroness Thatcher was still "going strong", despite breathing in his smoke for more than five decades.

But during the discussion on BBC 2's Newsnight, Professor Markham said: "I have to remind you that unfortunately Denis Thatcher is dead now. And I understand he had coronary artery by-pass grafting and died of a stroke. So, Denis Thatcher experienced all the medical coequal of smoking."

He went on: "I'm afraid to say that Lady Thatcher now has severe cerebrovascular disease. Who is to say that is not a consequence of smoking?"

Hockney, 66, is convinced that Maggie's late husband's life was not actually cut short - despite the fact that he chain-smoked super-strength Senior Service until his death last year.

Lady Thatcher often boasted about her good health and got by on just four hours sleep a night. But in 1994, she collapsed while speaking in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Her health took a turn for the worse in 2002 when she suffered a minor stroke. Doctors ordered her to abandon public life after a series of further strokes.

paul.gilfeather@mirror.co.uk

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Sir Denis smoked 60-a-day
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 28, 2004
Words:283
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