Dr. Breslau also conducted extensive research involving smoking. Her long-range studies among young smokers showed that those with a history of depression were more likely to become dependent on nicotine, and that those who were dependent on nicotine were more likely to become depressed years later.
Naomi Zeidel was born on April 9, 1932, in what is now Afula, Israel, to Shlomo and Shoshana (Fleischman) Zeidel, who worked in construction. Her parents were Labor Zionist immigrants from western Ukraine who settled in Palestine during the turbulent time of the British Mandate, which governed Palestine after World War I until 1948, when much of that territory became the newly created state of Israel.
The family, including a brother, Dany, and a sister, Sara, moved to Hadera, a town on the Mediterranean coast. Initially interested in becoming a lawyer, she received her law degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1954. She came to the United States in 1956 to study the administration of justice at New York University, but soon found herself more interested in sociology and received a master’s degree in that subject in 1963.
Her first husband, Dr. Lawrence Breslau, a psychiatrist, moved the family to Cleveland in 1960. They raised three sons, Jonathan, Daniel and Joshua, while she worked toward her Ph.D. in sociology, which she received in 1972 from Case Western Reserve University. She and Dr. Breslau were divorced in 1986; he died in 2009.
Dr. Breslau became director of research for the department of psychiatry and research investigator in the division of biostatistics and research epidemiology at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit in 1987. In 2003, she joined the Michigan State faculty.
She married Dr. Davis, a research psychiatrist, in 1990. He survives her, as do her three sons; two stepsons, Jason and Galen Davis; and six grandchildren.