Thursday, October 14, 2010

Leading causes of Death

“Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.” -Robert Cody
A commenter on yesterday's post about heat deaths offered a link to a Cato-at-liberty story that cites a paper (Goklany) on the leading causes of death. What stood out for me was this quote,
"Note that despite the hoopla about natural weather disasters, they contribute less than 0.06% to the annual U.S. death toll!"
In other words, extreme heat & cold, floods, tornadoes, lightning and hurricanes, COMBINED, account for less than 1 in 1000 of all deaths in the US.

So what are people dieing of (besides old age)? The Goklany report based on World Health Organization data shows that in 2002, globally people died as follows:

59% Non-communicable illness (cancer 12%, heart attack 29%, lung diseases 7%, and other)

32% Communicable Diseases (including AIDS 5%, Tuberculosis 3%, Diarrhea 3%, parasites 6%, starvation 1%, childbirth 5%)

09% Injury (Traffic accidents 2%, Murder 1%, War 0.3%)

00.03%  Extreme Weather

Now consider, which deaths get all the media attention?

Bottom Line

There is a huge disconnect between the dangers we fear and the dangers we will actually face. Exercise and diet are more likely to prolong your life than hurricane preparation. But weight control is a life style change while disaster prep is a quick fix that we can do once and feel safer afterwards.

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Blogger swedemom said...

This reminds of me of one of the chapters in Freakonomics where the author points out that it is far more dangerous to have a swimming pool at your home than a gun. More children die annually from drowning accidents in private swimming pools than accidental shooting deaths.

Yet more people are afraid of having a gun in the home. . .

October 19, 2010 at 8:20 PM  

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