NEARLY all of us work to live.
According to this article, we also work to die.
The news website, www.independent.co.uk, published the findings of a British study showing the link between death certificates and means of livelihood.
According to Andy McSmith’s Oct. 30, 2009 article, “Cause of death? It depends what you do for a living...,” a Southampton University research team collated the findings from 40,000 death certificates issued during the 1990s.
They established a pattern of death among people pursuing a certain occupation.
Asbestos puts to the grave a high number of carpenters, fitters, electricians, plumbers and gas fitters. Coal dust shortens the life of so many mine workers, black lung disease is also called coal workers' pneumoconiosis. Silicosis, the oldest known occupational disease, dooms sandblasters, rock cutters and miners inhaling silica in quarries or mines.
But the researchers also caution: “The results are purely statistical, which means that they cannot prove a causal link between an occupation and a disease, proving only evidence of a statistical association."
Instead of lifting all the veils, some of the findings deepen the final enigma, death.
Male hairdressers are more likely to die from Aids; women hairdressers, less likely. Researchers’ conclusion: cutting hair does not cause Aids.
Also exhibiting greater than average risk from Aids are tailors, dressmakers, nurses, journalists and creative people.
If Aids is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and HIV is spread by intercourse, contaminated needles, blood transfusion and contaminated breast milk, what risky behaviors are shared by hairdressers and journalists, nurses and dressmakers?
Literary and artistic types are more likely to die from drug abuse, established the Southampton University study.
If one is tempted to blame the casualties on intellectual meltdown, The Independent report dispels this: drug abuse also claims a lot of construction workers.
Another mystery: Lymphatic cancer claims many in teaching. Query the researchers: Is there something in the classroom or a lecture hall that is silently killing them?
Yet the academics have a very low death rate from lung cancer or heart disease. One statistician’s theory: sensible behavior.
The British statisticians stress a third point: there may exist “‘spurious consequence’ of an unusually high incidence of a different cancer.”
Thus, the suicide crashing doctors, dentists, vets, nurses, and ambulance workers is not from work-induced despair. The researchers say that health workers know how and can get hold of the means to rush to their own conclusions.
Among the most likely to be killed are bartenders. The risk is not from underworld denizens wheelin’ and dealin’ in clubs, but the elevated levels of violence bar patrons are prone to after putting away a lot of liquor.
Is there one unquestionable certainty the reader can extricate from this sticky web of statistics and interpretations?
Stay away from cars, advises the death monitors. During the study period, nearly 50 percent perished in car accidents while at work.
Will mass transit prolong our lives or rush us to premature oblivion?
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* First published as “Matamata” column in Sun.Star Cebu’s Nov. 1, 2009 issue