Friday, April 17, 2009

The Straight Dope

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 9:30 PM

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My girlfriend and I were fighting over which led to a greater chance of getting cancer, smoking or tanning. I probably average a cigarette a day, and my girlfriend usually goes tanning two or three times a week. Who gets cancer first?


A slo-mo suicide pact — quel romantique! The competitive aspect bugs me, though. Why not jump out the window hand in hand and have this end in a tie?

Research on light smokers is fairly sparse (heavy smokers get most of the ink), but what there is won't be much comfort. One Norwegian study, which tracked more than 40,000 people for up to 30 years, found the risk from smoking just one to four cigarettes per day was surprisingly high. For men, the risk of dying from lung cancer was 2.8 times higher than for nonsmokers; for women, it was more than five times higher. The cardio news was bad, too: The risk of death from ischemic heart disease was 2.7 to 2.9 times higher than for nonsmokers. Overall, light smokers' risk of dying from any cause was about 50 percent greater than nonsmokers'. (This means within a given period of time, you understand. The long-run risk of death for anyone short of the Virgin Mary is a solid 100 percent.)

Continue reading The Straight Dope.

(Illustration by Slug Signorino)

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