New York, NY -- December 6, 2007. Americans are bombarded almost daily with warnings about new health risks -- and advice on how to avoid premature disease and death. Too often, this flurry of advice and warnings blurs the true distinction between real and hypothetical health risks -- and between large and tiny chances of death.
A new website, at Riskometer.org, from the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), attempts to put these dangers in context, offering a realistic and scientifically sound picture of the most important causes of death -- and the leading risk factors for death -- in the United States.
Based on a peer-reviewed paper by Dr. John W. Morgan, cancer epidemiologist at Loma Linda University, and his colleagues, the colorful Riskometer.org site uses dynamic graphics to demonstrate the relative importance of the top 15 leading causes of death as well as the major fatal exposures in America. Both the actual numbers of deaths from these causes (on the Riskometer part of the site) as well as the odds of dying from each (on the Risk Rings section) are presented in a user-friendly and colorful format. Accompanying text explains the source of the statistics and presentation. There are links to other websites to provide interested users with additional information.
"With this website," explains Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, ACSH president, "we provide a reality check to counter the multiple health scares so common in the popular media today. On our new site, users can compare the enormous risk of death posed by smoking, for example, to the extremely small risk of dying from exposure to traces of various chemicals in the environment."
"I find it more and more disturbing that the American public and popular media are distracted from real health risks by repeated airing of alarms over inconsequential health 'scares',” noted ACSH medical and executive director Dr. Gilbert Ross. "I hope that our new Riskometer.org website helps allay such unrealistic fears and impresses users with the importance of the real threats to life and health in 21st century America," he added.
The American Council on Science and Health is an independent, non-profit consumer education organization concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment, and health.