Odds and Chances of Death by Activity and Behavior

How Various Behaviors Change Your Life Expectancy Odds!

Written by Carly Hallman

If you’re a cautious or worried person, you’ve probably asked yourself, “How likely am I to die doing this?” We don’t have the answer, but we do have some interesting odds and death risk rankings backed by micromort statistics to show how likely you are to die from certain activities, like jumping out of a plane to simply being born or getting out of bed! It’s amazing how our perceived fears have nothing to do with our actual risks of death.

Infographic illustrating those activities that cause mortality, rates and statistics

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How Likely You Are to Die From Different Activities and Behaviors Transcript

A micromort is a unit of risk that represents a one-in-a-million chance of sudden death. It is not cumulative.

Behavior Micromort
Ascent of Mt. Everest (per attempt) 37,932 micromorts
Mountaineering in the Himalayas 12,000
Getting out of bed (age 90) 463
BASE jumping 430
First day of life (being born) 430
Giving birth 170
Getting out of bed (age 75) 105
Using heroin 30
Playing American football 20
Getting out of bed (under age 1) 15
Using MDMA 13
Going for a swim (drowning) 12
Skydiving (per jump) 10
Riding a motorcycle (60 miles) 10
General anesthetic (emergency operation) 10
Hang gliding (per glide) 8
Running a marathon (per run) 7
Getting out of bed (age 45) 6
Scuba diving (per dive) 5
Rock climbing (per climb) 3
Eating 100 char-broiled steaks (due to benzopyrene) 1
Eating 40 tbsp. of peanut butter (due to aflatoxin) 1
Living two days in New York City or Boston (air pollution) 1
Spending 1 hour in a coal mine 1
Eating 1,000 bananas (due to radioactive potassium-40) 1
Traveling 6,000 miles by train (accident) 1
Traveling 1,000 miles by jet (accident) 1
Traveling 230 miles by car (accident) 1
Walking for 20 miles (accident) 1
Skiing (per day) 1
Living 2 months with a smoker (cancer, heart disease) 1
Horseback riding (per ride) ½
Kangaroo encounter 0.1

A is a unit of risk representing half an hour change in life expectancy. These ARE cumulative.

Behavior Microlife
Being female (per day) +4 microlives
Eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables +4
Physical activity (first 20 minutes of moderate exercise) +2
Physical activity (additional 40 minutes of moderate exercise) +1
2-3 cups of coffee +1
First alcoholic beverage (10g) +1
Alcoholic beverages (each one after first) -0.5
Daily sausage consumption -1
2 hours watching television (sedentary) -1
1 portion of red meat (85 grams/3 ounces) -1
Obesity (per 5 units above BMI of 22.5 each day) -3
Smoking 15-24 cigarettes -10

Lifetime Odds of Dying:

Cause of Death Odds
Heart disease 1 in 6
Cancer 1 in 7
Chronic lower respiratory disease1 in 27
Motor vehicle crash 1 in 102
Opioid painkillers 1 in 109
Fall 1 in 119
Gun assault 1 in 285
Pedestrian accident 1 in 561
Riding a motorcycle 1 in 846
Drowning 1 in 1,086
Fire or smoke 1 in 1,506
Choking on food 1 in 3,138
Bicycling 1 in 4,050
Accidental gun discharge1 in 8,305
Sunstroke 1 in 8,976
Electrocution, radiation, extreme temperature or pressure 1 in 14,630
Sharp objects 1 in 27,407
Hornet, wasp, and bee stings 1 in 54,093
Hot surfaces and substances 1 in 56,316
Cataclysmic storm 1 in 62,288
Lightning 1 in 114,195
Dog attack 1 in 132,614
Riding on a train 1 in 178,741
Riding on an airplane 1 in 205,552


Interesting Examples of Micromort Statistics

A micromort represents your risk of a one-in-a-million chance of sudden death. In our odds of dying chart, we’ve mapped unusual activities by their micromorts. The higher the number, the greater the risk. These might be some odd ways to die, like climbing Mount Everest, that don’t affect the whole population, but if you do them, you have a very slim chance of dying. Then, there are lifetime odds of dying, which shows your overall chance of dying from pretty typical deaths. So, you have a one in a million chance of sudden death from skiing for a day, but you have a one-in-six chance of dying from heart disease in America during your lifetime. Here are some facts to keep in mind:

  • What are the odds of dying from cancer? In America, you have a one-in-seven chance of dying from some form of cancer. Some cancers are more likely than others.
  • What are the odds of dying from terrorism? Reportedly you have a one in 45,808 chance of dying in a foreign-born terrorist attack. You have a one in 46,192,893 chance of dying from a refugee terrorist attack, and a one in 138,324,873 chance of dying from an illegal immigrant terrorist attack. You’re far more likely to die of sunstroke.
  • What are the odds of dying in a plane crash? Those who have a flying phobia may be relieved to hear that the chances of dying in a plane crash are low – one in 205,552. Flying 1,000 miles by jet is only one micromort – and it’s not a cumulative statistic.
  • What is the risk of dying in a car accident? It’s fairly high – a normal person has a one in 102 chance of dying in a motor vehicle crash.
  • What are the odds of dying while skydiving? The odds of dying while skydiving are low to begin with because so many people are afraid to do the activity, but if you look at micromort data, you have a 10 in one million chance of sudden death while skydiving.
  • What are the odds of dying during childbirth? Unfortunately, the risk of dying during childbirth, especially in America, is high. It’s 170 micromorts or 24 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Interesting Examples of Microlife Statistics

But let’s not focus on dying as much; let’s focus on living. What can increase your life expectancy? A microlife is anything that changes your overall life expectancy by a half hour. Here are some tips on how to live longer from data:

  • How much longer will you live if you quit smoking? The time depends on how old you are when you quit. Overall, smoking decreases your life expectancy a great deal. Even quiting a year at 70 years old, will improve your life expectancy.
  • Do vegetarians live longer? Overall, red meat decreases your life expectancy by a factor of three microlives while five servings of fruit and vegetables can increase it by four microlives. So, in theory, they can!
  • Do women live longer than men? Yes! Just being female gives you four microlives. It’s probably why most of the world’s oldest people are women.
  • How much exercise would you need to live longer? Twenty minutes of moderate exercise gives you two micromorts, essentially extending your life by an hour. This is cumulative, meaning the more often you do it, the better.

How are you most likely to die?

When you’re asking the question, “How will I die?” there’s no real way to know, and data like this can only reflect the possibilities and likelihood of death based on others’ deaths. If you’re using these odds of dying as predictions, know that they should not block you from enjoying activities and behaviors you enjoy. For instance, one activity that’s very risky is getting out of bed in the morning when you’re 90! Does that mean a 90-year-old person shouldn’t get out of bed? On the other hand, it’s a fairly good idea to generally avoid heroin and opioid painkillers. The latter causes one in 109 deaths in the United States.

We’ve arranged these death statistics by cause partially to show that the chances of dying and our ruminating fears often aren’t related! So, regardless of our death chart, if you want to go hiking in the Himalayas, do!

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