British Government Risk Classification
Sir Kenneth Calman, Govt Chief Medical Officer, has instituted a government
directive on how to explain risks to the public in a consistent way, intended
for patients with a choice of treatments. They argued that statistics are
confusing to normal people, and so they want to establish consistent use
of terms so that the 'man in the street' can compare one type of risk with
From The Times, 26/9/96 on "On the State of the Public Health",
Risk of dying in any one year as a result of exposure to the various
Moderate risk = less than 1:100 but greater than 1:1,000, eg Smoking
10 cigarettes a day, parachuting
Low risk = less than 1:1,000 but greater than 1:10,000, eg Influenza,
Very Low risk = less than 1:10,000 but greater than 1:100,000, eg
leukaemia, playing soccer, accident at work, murder
Minimal risk = less than 1:100,000 but greater than1:1,000,000, eg
railway accident, horse riding, fishing
Negligible risk = less than 1:1,000,000, eg hit by lightning or radiation
leak from nuclear power station
The risk of death from using Ecstasy depends on the number of users and
the number of deaths per year, both figures which are disputed. At a recent
meeting I attended along with a senior police officer, senior drugs educator
and head of drugs agency Lifeline, all were convinced that there are well
over a million regular users of Ecstasy, some thought as many as 2 million.
On the other hand, the British Crime Survey 1996 reported that there are
only 80,000 regular users.
The number of deaths known to be due to Ecstasy (ie, it was found in their
blood and there was no other obvious cause) is about seven per year in the
UK. Higher figures include 'Ecstasy-associated deaths' of people who have
taken Ecstasy but whose death was not directly attributed to the drug.
If we assume a million users, this works out at 1:143,000, implying the
risk is "Minimal".
If we assume 80,000 users, this works out at 1:11,430, implying the risk
is "Very Low".
E for Ecstasy contents