PASSINGS: Peter Wood

Peter Wood, 81, a Stanford University professor of medicine whose research helped decode the effects of diet and exercise on human health, died March 3 in Palo Alto of bile duct cancer, the university announced.

In a pioneering study published in 1977, Wood and a colleague linked running to increased levels of "good" cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein, which helps rid the arteries of cholesterol. The study came about after Wood, a runner, noticed that his HDL levels were unusually high.

Another of his many studies, in the early 1980s, concluded that the key to staying slender was not dieting but eating heartily while regularly exercising.

"We all need food," he told United Press International in 1983. "Food is a source of energy," but eating "has to be balanced by exercise."

Born in 1929 in London, he attended the University of London, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry, and doctorates in lipid biochemistry.

While serving in the Royal Air Force in 1949, Wood competed as a runner. He ran more than 100 marathons over 50 years.

He began his research at the Institute for Metabolic Research in Oakland in 1962 and joined Stanford in 1969 as a researcher in the department of medicine. He eventually helped found the Stanford Prevention Research Center before retiring in 1994.

He published more than 150 articles and books on lipid metabolism, nutrition and fitness.

— Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports

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