Dead Reckoning: Smoking and Killer Cows

 

By Scott LaFee   |   December 19, 2017

At this time of year, it’s all about beginnings, about doing or trying new things with the resolved goal of improving one’s health or life. Maybe it’s a new diet; maybe it’s taking up hang gliding.

The average life expectancy in the United States is currently around 79 years (higher for women, lower for men). Not bad, but not great either: Dozens of countries have higher life expectancies.

cow

The top three leading causes of death in the U.S. are disease-related: heart, cancer and chronic lower respiratory afflictions. Next comes accidents. The world is a scary place, though perhaps not in the places you might expect. More people are killed by cows each year — approximately 20 in the U.S. alone — than sharks worldwide.

Of course, there are lots of things you can do to boost your chances of living longer and reduce your chances of, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “shuffling off this mortal coil.” (Or more likely, falling.) Herewith, some of your odds of dying:

  • Cancer and heart disease – 1 in 7
  • Chronic lung disease – 1 in 28
  • Stroke – 1 in 30
  • Alzheimer’s disease – 1 in 43
  • Diabetes – 1 in 53
  • Any motor vehicle accident – 1 in 114
  • Riding in a motor vehicle – 1 in 645
  • Being run over by a car – 1 in 647
  • Riding a motorcycle – 1 in 985
  • Flying – 1 in 9,821
  • Bicycling – 1 in 4,700
  • Falling – 1 in 127
  • Unintentional poisoning – 1 in 96
  • Unintentional drowning – 1 in 1,188
  • Exposure to fire, flames or smoke – 1 in 1,498
  • Choking on food – 1 in 3,461
  • Insect stings – 1 in 63,225
  • Dog attack – 1 in 112,400
  • Lightning – 1 in 161,856
  • Earthquake – 1 in 132,000
  • Tsunami – 1 in 500,000
  • Asteroid (regional impact) – 1 in 500,000
  • Shark – 1 in 8 million
  • Hang gliding – 1 in 560
  • Skydiving – 1 in 101,083
  • Boxing – 1 in 2,200
  • Scuba diving – 1 in 34,400
  • American football – 1 in 50,000
  • Grand Prix racing – 1 in 100
  • Motorbike racing – 1 in 1,000
  • Canoeing – 1 in 10,000
  • Running and jogging – 1 in 1 million
  • Bicycling 1 in 140,845
  • Bungee jumping – 1 in 500,000
  • Base jumping – 1 in 60
  • Skiing – 1 in 1.4 million participants
  • Snowboarding – 1 in 2.2 million participants
  • Mountain climbing – 1 in 1,750
  • Fireworks – 1 in 615,000
  • Dance party – 1 in 100,000 dance parties
  • Table games – 1 in 100 million games
  • Computer games – 1 in 100 million games
  • Roller coaster – 1 in 750 million

Bottom line: Take those resolutions seriously! Quit smoking. Men who smoke are 22 times more likely to die from lung cancer than non-smokers; female smokers are 12 times more likely. Lose weight. People who are obese five or more years are 2 to 3 times at greater risk of dying than those who have never been obese. And if you really want to defy death: Don’t base jump.

Sources: Health Risks; Alternet; Insurance Information Institute; National Safety Council