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What’s most likely to kill you? Measuring how deadly our daily activities are

What’s most likely to kill you? Measuring how deadly our daily activities are

Everything carries a risk. Evidence based health procedures are ideally recommended only if the risk of having the procedure done (which includes scans) is less risky than not having it done. This article introduces the “micromort” – a one-in-a-million chance of death – as a unit of risk to help with comparisons between risky events and provides some surprising statistics, such as the risk of being killed in Australia by a shark is about the same as that by our national icon, the kangaroo, or commuting to work!

Hassan Vally, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, La Trobe University shows how this measure serves as a useful way to override our inherent predilection for irrationality in the perception of risk:


Photo: Rare white kangaroos

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I read something like this a few years ago (before CLL) and was horrified to see that riding my motorbike had the same value as fighting in Afghanistan - didn't stop me though! That happened when my platelets were 25 and my Dr said that if I had an accident I'd probably bleed to death. Cheerful.


Interesting article - thanks Neil. I like one of its last sentences "Everything in life has risks and the art of living a good life is to be clear as to when risks are worth taking"

So true...

Take care everyone, and beware of falling off your chairs - more risky than a shark attack, apparently!


P.S. I like the white kangaroos!


I'm with PaulaS - I do like the measurement of the micromort. Will be comforting news to my sky diving friends.

- love the white kangaroo

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This is interesting, but I venture to say that the calculations are fallacious. There is little sense in dividing the number of deaths by shark by the population of Australia, since many Australians don't swim at all (the very young, the old, the ill, those living far from the sea, those who simply can't swim!). A 'true' calculation, IMO, should divide the number of deaths by the number of 'events' - which would be the number of swims taken per annum in sea water known to contain sharks. Harder to find out, but far more relevant than the population, I reckon.

Likewise, we are forever being told that air transport is 'safer' than other forms, because it leads to fewer deaths per 10000 Km - however, planes travel faster and further per journey. Again, I'd argue that a more accurate measure would be 'deaths per journey' than 'deaths per km'... I know that it might be harder to gather figures on that, but it should be possible to gain estimates, and a 'truer' picture.


So if I'm sitting in my seat on an airplane without my seat belt on, I'm more likely to die from falling out of my seat (1.3 micromorts) than from the plane crashing (1).


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