Step 1. Wear your seatbelt. In 2006, over 40,000 people died in car crashes. It is estimated that wearing a seatbelt could reduce traffic fatalities by 50%. (Ok, my friend Sarah (who is in the know), points out that about 4800 lives would be saved each year if the US had 100% belt use (currently the national average is around 82%). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that for every 1% increase in belt use, approximately 270 lives would be saved.) Still...
Step 2. Stop smoking. This bad habit is the number 1 cause of preventable death in our country. One in every 5 deaths in the U.S. is related to smoking.
Step 3. Don't get Diabetes. And if you have it, stay on top of it. Around 70,000 people die each year of Diabetes related causes. About 20,000 people die each year of AIDs related causes. Guess which one patients are more scared of? By far, AIDs. Guess which one we diagnose far more frequently? You got it, Diabetes.
Step 4. Know the facts about immunization. Believe it or not, people die in our country every day from vaccine preventable disease. The seasonal flu alone kills about 30,000 people each year. The chicken pox still kills people (although rarely), as does whooping cough, meningococcal meningitis, cervical cancer caused by HPV....the list goes on. Suffering with or dying from vaccine preventable disease is an avoidable tragedy. As Ben Franklin so beautifully wrote, "In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it, by example showing that the regret may be the same either way and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen."
OK, whew, I got it out. Sorry for the public service announcement! Lots of numbers. Thanks for sticking with me through that tortuous terrain :)