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Which is worse for your health… bacon or cigarettes?

Cigarettes are pretty bad for your health, but bacon can be pretty bad for you as well. But which is worse? You may already think you know the answer, but the Straight Dope still wants to do the math to see how bacons and cigarettes stack up with one another and whether you should start smoking bacon instead.

Dear Cecil:

I need help putting to rest a rumor floating around the social networking world that bacon is just as dangerous to your health as cigarettes. Obviously nobody eats bacon at the rate of a pack a day like people do with cigarettes, because it’s not addictive, but I bet it doesn’t stop there. Please give me some ammunition!

— Jonathan

Cecil replies:

Yeah, it’s not fair. Nobody’s claiming bacon is health food, but compared to smoking cigarettes, the Class X felony of bad habits, surely eating some fried pig fat is on a par with jaywalking. However, we don’t want feelings, we want facts. Much depends on individual consumption habits, so we’ll need an indication of relative risk — how many cigarettes = how many slices of bacon, death-threatwise. This doesn’t lend itself to precise analysis, and the following isn’t something I’d care to defend before the PhD committee. But it’ll do for the real world.

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