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Do Spiders Spook You More Than Diabetes?

More Americans Afraid of Accidents, Insects Than Health Problems
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 28, 2008 -- A new survey looks at what Americans are most afraid of, and the results may surprise you.

They show that people are more afraid of things that are rarely likely to happen.

The survey was taken online in August by 2,424 people aged 18 and older who live in the U.S.

Accidents, Snakes, and Spiders

Respondents most fear accidents, with 29% saying getting in an accident was the scariest thought.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • 6% feared a plane crash
  • 5% feared being struck by lightning
  • 3% feared a car accident
  • 2% feared drowning or fire

The second biggest fear? Twenty-seven percent worried most about an encounter with an animal or a pesky insect.

  • 13% feared a snake bite
  • 8% were most afraid of a spider bite
  • 4% worried about a shark attack

About one-third could not pick a greatest fear from the set given.

Only 5% of participants said a health condition or illness was their biggest fear.

Among those who did fear a health problem, the scariest thought was getting cancer.

The survey was commissioned by the American Diabetes Association to raise awareness about the disease, which it says strikes almost 24 million adults and children in the U.S.

“Unfortunately, people don’t seem to take diabetes seriously and they don’t seem to realize that diabetes -- if left untreated or poorly treated-- can be a very scary disease,” Ann Albright, PhD, RD, president of health care & education at the American Diabetes Association, says in a news release.

“We don’t like to unnecessarily scare people, but the findings from this survey are alarming because diabetes is more deadly than these other fears and Americans are more likely to have a personal experience with diabetes than shark attacks or snake bites.”

Diabetes is often considered a silent disease because the symptoms can creep up slowly and may not be noticed. The ADA states that 57 million people in the U.S. are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

But the American Diabetes Association wants people to know that diabetes is the leading cause of kidney disease, amputation, and blindness.

In a news release, the group also points out that since 1987, death rates from diabetes have increased, while deaths from heart disease, stroke, and cancer have fallen.

The ADA has dubbed November American Diabetes Month.

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