What Killed Babe Ruth?

Bambino helped with experimental trail for rare cancer
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2008 5:08 AM CDT
In this undated photo, Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hits a home run.    (AP Photo/File)
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(Newser) – America thought Babe Ruth succumbed to throat cancer, caused at least in part by his smoking and drinking. But now a dentist who spent a year researching the circumstances surrounding the baseball legend's death tells the Sporting News that a different kind of cancer felled the slugger—and what's more, he died a self-sacrificing humanitarian.

Ruth died from nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare disease that causes less than 1% of cancer deaths in the US, said the researcher. Ruth signed up for a risky experimental treatment not previously tried on humans, essentially offering himself as a guinea pig for cancer research. Biographers "got it all wrong," said the dentist. "I used to see him as a giant on the field. Now I see him as a giant off the field." (Read more Babe Ruth stories.)