IN SPITE OF THE RISK
by David Sisler
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 — there are 40,000 new cases annually — 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. And just when it looked like we were going to be able to hold cigarette makers financially responsible for their poison, another poison — congressional greed — set in.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. But more than 100,000 people die each year from lung cancer, related to cigarettes. More than 30,000 die of mouth and pancreatic cancers, related to cigarettes. Almost 200,000 from cardiovascular disease, related to cigarettes. Over 80,000 from lung diseases such as emphysema, related to cigarettes. Almost 1500 die from fires caused by smoking. The deaths of more than 2500 babies are attributed to their mothers' smoking habits. Almost 4000 non-smokers die from passive smoke every year — they inhale someone else's fumes.
Put this one in your pipe and smoke it — three years ago 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. 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. If you are lucky, you can get more than two dozen DUI convictions in Augusta, GA and draw a year's sentence for the last one. Judicial irresponsibility is unleashing preventable death. Put DUI under a three strikes law — three strikes (that means you are caught three times, not that you were driving drunk three times) and you are in jail for life.
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 7/11/98
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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