People who get immersed in the longevity pursuit inevitably must consider risk and death rates. Here is my contribution to that genre. I’m looking at death rates today. I was stunned to learn that bad nutrition causes about as many deaths as violence does. One of the most deadly things people can do is to get in their cars and drive down the street.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills more people than cancer, though the total is comparable for each. Wikipedia has some older statistics where the cardiovascular (CV) risk is much higher than cancer, http://t.co/u7tm1a3VU7 . Falls are another major cause of death. It is known that you can substantially reduce the risk of falling with balance and agility exercises. Some claim that the police kill many more people than the crooks. According to the CDC report, this is a dubious claim. Looks like Wikipedia table has problems wrt. infectious diseases; a major cause of death. Check CDC pdf. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr62/nvsr62_06.pdf . The 2010 CDC report has a particular interpretation. I’m sure someone has an explanation for this. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_04.pdf . It is not always clear that newer data is better data. The wine gets better with age, as they say ;-). Wikipedia stops at 5% risk. If 95% of your cohort dies before you, you are sure to get A grade, but you will be just as dead. 😉
It is distressing that after 40 years of explanations, people still don’t know that you can reduce your CV risk to near zero, and that the risk of many other causes of death go down commensurately with CV risk. WHO has a chart that puts it all into stark perspective. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/ . A problem with risk assessments is that they fail to account for the consistent application of beneficial behaviors. We are lumped in with those doing unwise things year after year. For example, a good driver does not substantially increase his risk of causing an accident by driving more, just as non-smokers do not accrue risk of dying from a smoking-related illness by adding more non-smoking years. If you are making wise choices, you should not base your risk assessment on the unwise choices of other people. About 50% of people die of CVD, cancer, or related problems, but you can reduce this risk to near zero. Why wouldn’t people want this?
The motor and air travel industries achieve their impressive statistics by reducing risk for large groups of people. If you are a bad pilot or driver, you have destroyed the advantage of those great statistics. OTOH, the industry has defined the risk very narrowly to get their great statistics. Industry statistics do not take into account the health consequences of air travel, such as radiation and bad layovers. Consider the contrast with bicycling, which enhances your health in countless ways. Air travel does the opposite of that. Similar arguments can be made for motor travel. My advice is to drive sparingly to maintain ability, avoid air travel altogether, and find more healthful ways to get around, like biking or running.