In Spite of the Risk

by David Sisler

All right. Let's do this once more. And this time, pay attention.

In spite of the known risks, we continue to do things that may harm us and may even kill us. If they don't kill us, our actions may prove fatal to someone else. I'm going to mention several things, and in spite of the risks, many of you will completely ignore me.

Number one: Every year, millions of Americans look forward to spending time at the beach. They will put on some sun-screen, get a hat and when they've had enough sun, move into the shade. This way, they think, they will get a "safe" tan.

There is only one problem. There is no such thing as a safe tan. More than 600,000 people will get skin cancer this year because of overexposure to the sun, and 8,000 will die. Incidents of malignant melanoma--the most deadly type of skin cancer--has increased 400 percent in the last 25 years and the direct cause is sun tanning.

When the American Academy of Dermatology--the scientists who know more about the human skin than anyone else--responded to the question, "Is there a safe way to tan?" their straightforward answer was, "No!"

Number two: Highway safety experts agree--seat belts save lives. Experts also agree, people are dying, sitting on their seat belts. You know the excuses: they wrinkle my clothes, they are uncomfortable, it's only a short trip.

One day, on impulse, entertainer Barbara Mandrell buckled her seat belt and insisted her children also buckle up. A few minutes later their car was struck head on. Barbara suffered numerous broken bones--her thighbone, ribs, toes--and a concussion, but she lived, because she had fastened her seat belt.

Number three: Safe sex is a myth. In the heat of passion, the brain shuts off, and people ignore the risk. One government pamphlet says, "Condoms are not 100 percent safe, but if used properly they will reduce the risk of contracting AIDS." That is irresponsibly dangerous--reduce the risk of a disease that is 100 percent fatal! Safe sex is the sex from which you restrain, not the sex in which you take limited safety precautions.

Number four: Warning--cigarettes kill. Almost one-half million people die annually from health problems caused by smoking. Such deaths have increased 10 percent annually although the number of smokers has declined by almost one-third.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. But in the last year for which figures are complete, 111,985 people died from lung cancer related to cigarettes. 30,850 died of mouth and pancreatic cancers. 197,820 from cardiovascular disease. 82,857 from lung diseases such as emphysema. 1303 died from fires caused by smoking. The deaths of 2552 babies were attributed to their mothers' smoking habits. 3825 non-smokers died from passive smoke--they inhaled someone else's fumes.

Put this one in your pipe and smoke it--Philip Morris USA recalled 8 billion cigarettes because of a possible contamination which could cause, and I'm quoting the tobacco company source, "irritation of the eye, nose and throat, dizziness, coughing and wheezing or just leave a bad taste." All cigarettes do that! They must all be tainted! Can we get a universal recall?

Number five: Alcohol, when mixed with gasoline, kills. A 38-year-old man, was driving on his fourth suspended license. 56 days into the 90 day sentence he was driving drunk, and killed a man. Convicted of vehicular homicide he was sentenced to 34 months in prison. His license was suspended again, but after he leaves prison, he can get another license to drive, or is that a license to kill, if he posts a $60,000 bond.

Every 24 minutes in this country, there is one alcohol related death. Half of the 50,000 people who die annually in traffic accidents were killed by alcohol.

You know the facts. You know they are true. In spite of that knowledge many of you will ignore every warning I have sounded, including this last one. It was written by a man named John: "He who believes in God's son is not judged guilty. He who does not believe has already been judged guilty, because he has not believed in God's only Son" (John 3:18).

Ignoring the first five warnings may not kill you. You may get lucky. Ignoring the last one will be fatal. And it is an eternal fatality you need not risk!


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 6/17/95

Copyright 1995 by David Sisler

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