Why the World Needs Riskometer.org

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At last, there is a reliable source of information to help us differentiate real health threats from alarmist nonsense. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has researched and published a reliable reference to help the consumer discern the comparative risk of dying from various illnesses, behaviors and exposures. On our new website, Riskometer.org, a simple graphic-illustration diagram of relative threat magnitudes is accompanied by clear text and references to source material.

How can Americans figure out which of the many, many warnings that beleaguer us daily need to be addressed and which are mere hype, promoted by agenda-driven activist groups? We desperately need reliable information to help us cope with the cascade of conflicting and misleading health stories on each evening news telecast. Toward that end, ACSH has spent over two years researching and preparing this risk assessment tool for the public.

Americans today are being relentlessly assaulted -- not by terrorists or muggers -- but by repeated alarms, emanating from health nanny "consumer groups," the media, and government. All of these folks assert that they only want to help us live longer and healthier lives. But they make it sound as if we're all doomed if we fail to take their warnings to heart: Don't eat those foods, don't drink that, don't use this around the house, and for heavens sake don't let your children play with that! Trans fats, sweeteners, carbs, cholesterol, "junk food," plastic toys and water bottles -- even lipstick -- all carry deadly threats: cancer, developmental delay, obesity, diabetes, MRSA, who-knows-what.

Yet, the statistics tell us that we are living longer and healthier lives: no matter what the scaremongers say, cancer and heart disease rates have declined -- despite all the toxins we ingest, despite ignoring the advice of our neighbors to eat only organic food (to avoid deadly pesticides), despite (or, in truth, because of) having our kids vaccinated. The new ACSH Riskometer is replete with the scientific data to show which of these threats need to be respected and which are overblown. And the information is presented in an easily comprehensible way, using colorful graphics including "risk rings," whose size varies precisely with the degree of risk, along with easy links to additional information.

If you, like many of us, are among the "worried well" -- those who are not ill but are concerned about how to avoid real dangers to health, and who feel themselves being weighed down by a free-floating anxiety over the many warnings we hear daily -- the ACSH Riskometer may well be the answer you seek.

Gilbert L. Ross, M.D., is Medical and Executive Director of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org, HealthFactsAndFears.com).

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