Following a five-year study, doctors have come to what they’re calling an irrefutable conclusion that the nation’s biggest killer is death. The stark findings are published today in medical journal, The Lancet, after the most extensive research project of its kind ever undertaken.

Professor Stanley Ralphs, who headed up the team, told the BBC’s Naga Munchetty: ‘We have suspected this for quite some time now, but following what was truly pioneering work our findings are totally conclusive. No matter what illness we focused on there was one overriding symptom of commonality. And that was death. It was a real ‘Eureka!’ moment. Whatever the fatal disease the outcome is always the same. Death.’

‘But of course there is still much more work to be done, in particular our research has highlighted a worrying correlation between this prevalence of death, and the incidence of life, which undoubtedly merits further study, but we are confident the answer can be found given time.’

The news has already prompted tobacco companies to demand an immediate relaxation of the many restrictions forced upon the sale of cigarettes and pipe tobacco in recent years. A spokesman for the industry said: ‘I’m delighted the truth is finally out. All this time our industry has been demonised and pilloried as the nation’s biggest killer while all the time it’s been death. We’ll see the government in court!’