What Are the Odds?

September 16, 2008
Physician's Money Digest, May 15 2003, Volume 10, Issue 9

With all the craziness going on in the world today, some physicians might feel compelled to keep themselves and their families close to home. Sorry, but according to the Statistical Assessment Service (www.stats.org), the 2 most dangerous places (ie, the places with the highest odds of death) are on the highway and in the home.

In fact, the odds of death from a terrorist attack are about 1 in 9.3 million, and the odds of dying in an airline crash are more than 1 in 8.4 million. Based on statistical analysis, to be part of an air accident with multiple fatalities, a traveler must fly every day for more than 8200 years. As for all transportation-related deaths, more than 8 in 10 take place in a car (72%) or on foot (11%).

Indeed, the likelihood that you will have an accident at home or at work is much, much greater than any real danger that you can possibly imagine. The odds that an American will suffer from heart disease are 1 in 300, and the odds of getting cancer are 1 in 509. Interestingly, Americans who said they had not taken a vacation for 5 years have a much greater chance of developing cardiac problems.

While still long odds, other more likely fatality probabilities are auto accidents (1 in 18,800), HIV/AIDS (1 in 19,400), falls (1 in 29,700), skin cancer (1 in 37,900), pedestrian accidents (1 in 45,200), injuries at work (1 in 46,600), and influenza (1 in 159,000).

Even the chances of a very good thing happening are extremely remote. The odds of winning a Powerball lottery are about 1 in 80 million.

Bottom line:

Live life sensibly and to the fullest; many things are beyond your control.