Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alcohol Poisoning

I ran into an interesting web page the other day. Death Rates from various causes of accidents. This is a good way to check if something is a reasonable risk, or hysteria. Of course, accidents make up a fairly modest number of deaths. The previous list claimed 151 268 in 2000, compared to the total number of deaths in America which was 2.4 million. That makes accidents a mere 6% of deaths. However as a young male, they are one of the biggest risks I face.

A few numbers on that list shocked me. Probably the most surprising one was Alcohol Poisoning. Now, Alcohol does increase the risk of a small number of cancers, and certainly increases the risk of drowning or getting in a motor accident. However the risk of Alcohol poisoning is remarkably small, 302 deaths in 2000. Your life-time odds of dying from this are 1 in 12 thousand! Compare that to a 1 in 3 chance of dying from heart disease, or a 1 in 5 chance of dying of cancer. This is something I always assumed was a pretty big risk, that cannot even beat the risk of freezing to death(742 deaths in 2000) or drowning in a bath tub(341 deaths)

The only chances of death by accident that you face more than a 1 in 1000 chance of dying from are:

Being a car occupant is unsurprisingly quite dangerous. About 15 thousand deaths in 2000, giving it a 1 in 242 chance it will be how you die.

Pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle, 1 in 610 deaths

"Other and unspecified land transport accidents" 1 in 212

Falling down. This is hard to interpret because under falls most of them do not list how they fell. "Other fall from the same level" seems to be the most common. All falls combined add up to a 1 in 269 chance that you will die from them. As a young person you really don't face much risk here unless you do a lot of rock climbing. Mostly this is old people with weak bones.

Poisoning by "Narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens] n.e.c" 1 in 583, at 6 000 a year these are a lot more dangerous than alcohol.

Poisoning by "other and unspecified drugs medicaments and biologicals" 1 in 763.

Suicide actually beats most individual accident methods as a way people die. Not sure I would classify it as an accident but that is a 1 in 122 chance of being how someone dies.

Assault by firearm is pretty shockingly high on this list. 1 in 331 deaths. So is another category of murder they label "Other and unspecified means and sequelae" 1 in 861. I assume that means you get beaten to death with a fork, or some other murder by a random object. Really, almost all of that is in social groups where crime is common, so you are pretty safe in this case.

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