June 30, 2010 / 11:54 PM / 9 years ago

Writer Christopher Hitchens to undergo chemotherapy

Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author of his new memoir "Hitch 22," poses for a portrait outside his hotel in New York, June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British-born author Christopher Hitchens on Wednesday cut short a book tour to undergo chemotherapy, which several media outlets reported was because the heavy smoker has been diagnosed with cancer.

“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice,” Hitchens, 61, said in a statement released through his publishers Twelve.

A representative for the publisher offered no details beyond the statement.

Hitchens, known to be a heavy smoker, launched a book tour last month to promote his memoir “Hitch 22” which tackles subjects ranging from the Middle East and Zimbabwe to his friendships with prominent writers including Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis.

As a journalist, critic and war correspondent, Hitchens has carved out a reputation for barbed repartee, scathing critiques of public figures and a fierce intelligence.

In his 2008 book “God Is Not Great”, Hitchens put himself on a collision course with major religions with his trenchant atheist views.

Hitchens was born in Britain, lives in Washington D.C., and retained his British citizenship when he also became an American citizen in 2007.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant and Mark Egan; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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