The 10 Scariest Things You Can't Avoid

| Wed Jun. 1, 2011 6:52 PM EDT

Today's world is a scary place, as any quick perusal of the interwebs will tell you. We're dealing with threats of death by obesity. Climate change. Nuclear war. Pickles. Wait, whutnow? Trust me, I know— that's what I said yesterday, when in my reading through articles about cell-phone-cancer-doom I came across this nifty little article about death by pickled stuff. Why would the universe want to deprive me, Snooki, and so many others of our favorite sandwich accompaniment?

But I suppose, in reality, I can avoid pickles if it's a matter of life or death. Still, I'm troubled by a slew of other articles that point to things that are so ingrained in our day-to-day existence that they would be extremely difficult—in some cases impossible—to dodge. How do we live with ourselves, knowing our every move is damaging our health? That the very way modern society dictates we exist is a carcinogenic, life-sucking slog to the grave, and that we're also indirectly killing our planet in the process? I plan to address that in an article to come, but in the meantime, here are ten everyday hazards with no easy fix:

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10. Cell phones. This is the news du jour, or du week, so let's start off with it. The WHO is suggesting that we limit our contact with cellphones,  you know, now that we've just about done away with pay phones and land lines. My phone is a constant companion and my tie across the country to friends and family at home. Will I try to hold it up to my ear less? Probably for about a week, and then I'll just wonder occasionally if it's slowly killing me.

9. Health food. Avoiding fried food, red meat, and sugar are well-known rules to the conscientious eater. These days, however, there are a few less obvious culprits we might want to knock off our lists. Many types of seafood are either unsafe in any real quantity or unsustainable. Soy can cause fertility problems. Chicken is often full of hormones and the animals are raised cruelly. Bagged greens are not clean enough, and in the worst case scenarios, they give you salmonella (remember that?). And even if it's all organic all the time (which is costly), the packaging will get ya!

8. Radiation. This clever comic says it all, and is a vicious reminder of how prevalant it is.

7. Dry-cleaning. You know it's bad for you and bad for the environment. But if you still have clothes that require it, you're in a bit of a bind.

6. Public transportation. This particular category was inspired by a lovely study that came out in the Bay Area. MRSA, among other tasty treats, was found on the seats of our BART train system. You'd think, armed with this knowledge, you would never sit on them again. But trust me, you'll renegotiate with yourself after a long day of work. Which brings me to my next point:

5. Commuting! Even if the seats on your city's public transportation don't have MRSA, commuting will kill you anyway. Or ruin your marriage. And what if you want to walk, you say? Read on.

4. Walking. That's right, even if you decide to walk to work, you better hope you don't live in one of these ten cities.

3. Additives. This piece on "your daily chemical cocktail" (it includes a Subway sandwich, and let's face it, Subway is often "healthier" than the alternatives), will make you fear additives, and have no idea how to avoid them without it totally consuming your life.

2. Sleep. Try not to get too much, but DEFINITELY avoid getting too little. Eight hours on the nose, every night, OK? If only we lived in a time and a place that allowed such consistency.

1. Sitting. As a cube-rat, I was definitely most disturbed by this one. For those of us with jobs that require us to be tethered to a desk all day, it's sobering to know that even if you remember to do all of NPR's suggested exercises, it's just plain not good for you.

So! What's a soy-eating, BART-riding, office-working, cell-phone talking person like me to do? Look up at the heavens and scream, "WHY WON'T THEY JUST LET ME LIVE?!" I tried it, it feels good. And it's the only answer I've got for you right now, other than just ... do your best.