Every day there are news stories that report medical findings. But, what does this risk mean to you?
To make sense of these messages about health risks, you should ask the following questions:
Risk of what? Understand what the outcome is (getting a disease, dying from a disease, developing a symptom), and consider how bad it is.
How big is the risk? Find out your chance of experiencing the outcome – number of people who experienced the outcome out of how many could have experienced the outcome.
What is the time frame? Is the time frame for the risk the next year, the next 10 years, or a lifetime?
For the average person, most bad health events are rare: as in, occur in less than 1 percent of us in the next decade. Doubling that risk takes it to less than 2 percent. Flip the frame, the chance of not having the event moves from 99 percent to 98 percent.
According to Gilbert H. Welch. M.D. we are in the modern world regarding the study of chronic disease, where big data too often identifies tiny risks but produces unimportant information. The study of chronic disease has hit the flat of the curve – the big risks to human health have largely been identified.
Therefore, pay attention to those things that double (100% increase), triple or increase your risk tenfold and ignore stories that talk about “threats to your health” followed by the double digit percentage increase.
(Ref: Know Your Chances: Understanding Health Statistics; Woloshin, MD, MS; Schwartz, MD,MS; Welch, MD,MPH; Less Medicine More Health; Welch, MD, PHD)
Quote of the Week:
“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”
– Nido Qubein
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