Thursday, October 30, 2008

Polling Place

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A Lullaby Before You Die

I heard 2 rats die the night before last, killed by the owls in the creek behind my house who hunt for their dinner around 1 or 2 in the AM. Before the owl finishes off the rat, he always sings a little hooting song. Maybe, like the American Indians, he’s singing a song of thanksgiving to the rat’s spirit before he eats it. I’m sad for the rat but glad for the owl. The creature most likely to kill man, other than man, is the mosquito. In the world, an estimated 700 to 800 million people are infected with a mosquito-borne disease annually and over 1.2 million of them die from malaria alone. One of the mosquito’s favorite germ factory blood sources is the rat. Bill and Melinda Gates should be happy to know the owl is working towards their same goal of eradicating malaria, without the use of pesticides!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can you be Scared to Death?

YES, although it's rare.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) occurs when the heart develops an abnormal rhythm that causes it to stop beating - which is different from a heart attack where the blood flow to the heart is blocked. When SCD occurs in children or adolescents, it's more often due to a heart condition that was present at birth and is likely a genetic disorder called “hypertrophic cardiomyopathy” which is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes, triggered perhaps by vigorous exertion, or a shock to the system. In 2004, 139 deaths or 10% of a total of 1,282 deaths from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy occurred to those under age 25.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Deadly Vampire Bats!

It’s not just a Halloween story. Vampire bats do kill! 38 Warao Indians died recently in Venezuela from rabies spread by vampire bats. An estimated 55,000 people die annually in the world from rabies (most from dog bites). The highest number of reported rabies deaths are in Thailand, with 346 deaths per the World Health Organization (WHO) between 1994 to 2002 (most dog related). But in South America, news stories abound about breathing sound-tracking, blood sucking, death causing, vampire bats, with the highest number of rabies deaths being reported to the WHO from Brazil (119 deaths from 1996 through 2004).,9171,868420-1,00.html

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Can Cavities Kill?

Yes, especially if the cavity in question is the oral cavity commonly known as your mouth. The Center for Disease Controls (CDC) and other government agencies estimate total annual U.S. deaths from tobacco (inhaled through the mouth) at 438,000, obesity (food taken in by the mouth) at 300,000 and drug & alcohol abuse (commonly ingested in pill and liquid form though the mouth) at 55,200 for total deaths of over 793 thousand or approx. 1/3 of all 2.4 million annual U.S. deaths in 2005. Dental caries (commonly known as tooth decay or cavities), on the other hand, accounted for 4 deaths in 2004 (3 in 2001).

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Can Negativity Kill?

Yes, if you’re a pregnant woman with RH negative blood. Five U.S. babies died in 2004 specifically from RH isoimmunization (4 in 2001, 6 in 2002, 1 in 2003 and 7 in 2005). That’s 5 deaths out of 14,213 babies who died in 2004 from birth-related conditions other than birth defects (which claimed another 10,498). Those 5 deaths were likely preventable if the RH-negative mom had gotten a simple shot. If only it were that easy to eliminate other types of negativity.

For more on what causes babies to die see the chapter on Bad Birth. For more on RH incompatibility see the entry in MedlinePlus's medical encyclopedia (I know about it because I've had the shot).

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Busy Hands Are Happy Hands

0.8 Percentage of all U.S. suicides taking place at work (page 264 Cause of Death book). U.S. suicide rates increased 6% between 2000 and 2005 from a suicide death rate of 10.4 per 100,000 (17.1 for men and 4.0 for women) to 11.0 (17.7 for men and 4.5 for women). During the same period, according to the OECD, U.S. total employment rates went down 3.5% from 74.1 to 71.5. Let’s hope we’re not going back to 1975 when suicide rates were 12.6 per 100,000 (18.7 for men and 6.7 for women) and the employment rate was a low 63.1.,3352,en_2825_293564_1_1_1_1_1,00.html Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Struck Dead From Above

Question: Are you more likely to be struck down from above or below?
Answer: Look to the heavens. Lightning kills more in the
U.S. than snake bites

73 Average number of Americans killed each year by lightning over the last thirty years
52 Average killed by lightning between 1999 and 2005 (highest was 66 deaths in 2002)
12 Largest number of annual U.S. snakebite deaths between 1960 and 1990
12 Largest number of annual snakebite deaths between 1999 and 2005 (12 deaths in the year 2000)
6 Average annual number of U.S. snakebite deaths between 1999 and 2005

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Suicide Over Time By Sex and Age

Question: Do women kill themselves for lost love and men for lost youth?
Answer: Maybe
Male suicide rates are 3 to 4 times higher than that of females but men tend to check out later in life while women are more likely to exit at a younger age. Beside the difference in age, men and women seem to be impacted differently by external events. The peak period for American women to commit suicide between 1950 and 2005 was from 1970 to 1977 when their death rates were 6.5 or more per 100,000 females. The peak period for American men was from 1985 to 1991 when their death rates were over 20.0 per 100,000 males.

For more on Suicide see the Cause of Death book page 258

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To Wine Or Not To Wine

Question: How much daily wine is bad for you?
Answer: More than 8 ounces (1 cup)
Too much alcohol can lead to death from accidents, heart disease, cancer, alcoholic liver disease, and alcohol use disorder, to name a few, for a total of 21,634 alcohol-induced U.S. deaths in 2005 (19,815 in 2001). But a 2007
Netherlands study found that light alcohol consumption, compared to no alcohol consumption, was responsible for a 36% lower risk of death from all causes. Light alcohol was defined as 20 grams or less per day. Given that 5 ounces of wine contains from 12 to 14 grams of alcohol and an average wine bottle holds about 25 ounces, 20 grams is equal to about 1/3 of a bottle or 8 ounces of wine. As per the philosopher Aristotle, with respect to the enjoyment of pleasures: “temperance is a mean between the excess of intemperance and the deficiency of insensibility.”

Cause of Death book page 332

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Can You Really Die From Termites?

Answer: Yes
Intrigued by “Detox”, an episode of the TV show House, in which teenage Keith has signs of hemolytic anemia from acute naphthalene toxicity, which he got from exposure to termites, I wondered how many people die from this kind of thing. Turns out one can be exposed to naphthalene from mothballs, tobacco smoke, working in coal-tar production, wood preserving, tanning, or ink and dye production and from termites. And exposure to naphthalene can cause anemia which can result in death. In the US, 4,000+ people die per year (4,345 in 2001 and 4,336 in 2004) from non nutritional anemia (ie anemia that is not caused by iron, Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency), although most of the deaths are likely from inherited disorders rather than acute exposure. Still - maybe it’s time to call the exterminator!
Cause of Death book (page 214)

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Killer Bears in Alaska

Question: If you live in Alaska are you more likely to die from a Polar or Grizzly Bear?
Answer: Grizzly. Between 1900 and 2002 there was 1 death from a polar bear, 6 from black bears and 48 from grizzly bears. The odds of dying from any bear are going down as the animals are threatened by extinction.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008


Question: Are your glands or your brain more likely to kill you from stress?
Answer: Brain
Stress can cause your adrenal glands to overreact by producing too much cortisol which can result in Cushing’s syndrome (22 deaths in the
U.S. in 2001, 29 in 2002 and 34 in 2003). Stress can also impact the biology of the brain causing stress and adjustment disorders, including post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD (29 deaths in 2001, 52 in 2002 and 51 in 2003).
If the solution to brain stress is exposure therapy (ie reliving the traumatic event) per a recent article in Science Daily, then the wild gyrations of the stock market could be both the cause and the cure!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Men With Guns Versus The Black Rhino

The Black Rhino is losing (primarily due to Chinese demand for its horn)!

178 # rhino poachers killed in Zimbabwe between 1984 -1996
2,685 # black rhino killed during the same period

Sources: International Wildlife Nov-Dec 1996 and page 85 Cause of Death book Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 13, 2008

70 Rats Times 70

QUESTION: What do rats have to do with the number 70?
ANSWER: There are at least 70 known rat-borne diseases, including bubonic plague, typhus and leptospirosis and a typical rat can have as many as 70 offspring during an average 3 year lifespan. (page 83) Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Falling Down

12% Percentage of people who die falling off ladders who took their swan dive in the month of October - the highest month of the year for ladder fall deaths (next to June). It's not just the stock market that goes down in the Fall. Be careful out there!

Cause of Death book page 61 and Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Death by Cloaking Device?

QUESTION: What parasite kills over 1.2 million people annually and uses a "cloaking device" to do it?
ANSWER: Malaria (page 247)

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's Deadlier: The Puffer Fish or The Shark?

Answer: The Puffer Fish

In Japan, 50 people per year, on average, die eating puffer fish (otherwise known as fugu or blowfish) vs 48 who died by shark attack in waters off the Pacific/Oceania Islands (not including Hawaii) between 1580 and 2003. (page 107 and 109) Sphere: Related Content


17 Age when testosterone levels hit their peak in young men; they slowly start to slide in the 30s and 40s (page 204)

Male Homicide Death Rates per 100,000 by age (worldwide)
Age 0-4: death rate 5.8
Age 5-14: death rate 2.1
Age 15-29: death rate 19.4 (when testosterone levels peak)
Age 30-44: death rate 18.7
Age 45-59: death rate 14.8
Age 60+: death rate 13.0
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008


6-9 p.m.
Deadliest time to be a U.S. pedestrian (page 53)
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Face It. We Can Go Anytime. But In So Many Different Ways!

Cause of Death is a great reference tool for writers, entomologists (some insects kill a lot of people) and anyone interested in health and death-related information. After all, we will all bite the dust, check out, buy the farm and kick the bucket but where we live, our sex, race, age, genetics and habits will ensure we will exit in our own unique way.

I can see this book being useful for people creating fiction where they need somebody to die, and fast.” - Cause of Death book review 'Where To Find Ingredients For Your Next Death Scene'

Death By Numbers

A Book In the Hand