5 Popular Safety Measures That Don't Make You Any Safer

#2. Breast Cancer Self-Examination

The most frequent cancer warning, just behind "always wear sunscreen," has to be the constant reminder for women to check their breasts for lumps. Until recently, doctors everywhere advised women to regularly rifle around their funbags (we held an office contest, and that won out as the "least mature phrasing possible") in search of cancer. This falls right into our readers' widely held belief that most human problems can be solved by the application of sufficient hands to boobs.

Our plan for peace in the Middle East.

Young women don't routinely receive mammograms, and the thinking was that the early notice provided by self-exams would save lives (and breasts). Then some scientists decided to actually test the benefits of medical boob-fondling (our No. 2 pick). In 2008, they published the results of two massive mammary studies encompassing a staggering 388,500 Russian and Chinese women between 30 and 66.

One group of women was not taught or urged to perform examinations. The other women received detailed training and regular refresher classes, which we're guessing were hosted in some sort of large sexodrome filled with pillows and dotted with open bars.

Wait, seriously? There's such a thing as a Sexodrome?

After 10 years of intensive, slightly creepy research the scientists found ... no difference in cancer survival rates between the two groups. We know what you're thinking: Sure, self-exams don't make anyone safer, but they sure as hell can't hurt! They're probably good for your blood pressure or ... something.

You might think that, but you would be wrong. It turns out that the women who do self-examinations are almost twice as likely to get unnecessary biopsies. So basically, you're no less likely to die from cancer, but you're way more likely to have someone stick a knife in your chest. Up to you, ladies.

Most people try to avoid this.

#1. Gated Communities

Let's face it, cities can be terrifying. They are, after all, filled with people like us. The modern metropolis is a teeming hive of strung-out dope heads, rapists, home invaders and fine regional cuisine. There's only one solution to this problem that doesn't involve switching ZIP codes. If you've got the money, a gated community promises security and isolation from the skeeviest of your fellow Americans.

This is the closest that some wealthy folks will ever come to seeing a hobo.

About 11 percent of Americans in the West and 6.8 percent in the South live in gated developments. High membership dues and expensive housing keep the "riff-raff" from moving in next door, while high walls and a security guard keep them from wandering in off the street, drinking the wrong types of alcohol and leering at women joggers. Sure, it's a little paranoid. But at least people in gated communities gain comfort and tangible safety benefits without hurting anyone else. It's like a guard dog you don't have to feed or replace every 10 years.

Off to the rendering plant with you, Fido!

Unfortunately, science is finding that the chief benefits of gated-community living are illusory at best. Preliminary research finds that "crimes such as burglary drop in the first year or so of gating, but then rise back to the level of the areas outside." The president of research for the National Association of Home Builders found studies indicating "no differences" in crime between gated and non-gated communities. The City of Miami noted that "the long-term crime rate is at best only marginally altered."

The key is to realize how minimal the security actually is. You're not living behind a Simpsons movie-style dome, protected by your own personal military. You've got a gate, maybe with an electronic code, or maybe with a security guard making barely over minimum wage. In both cases, you can't keep everyone out -- friends, family members, landscaping crews, pizza delivery drivers, all have to be able to pass in and out. The system will always have to allow a certain number of strangers in. Meanwhile, the burglars in the area know that those houses behind the gates have all the nicest stuff -- you're announcing that just by living there -- and that it's not exactly freaking Fort Knox.

That security guard will answer your call as soon as he finishes his joint.

And if something bad does happen in your gated paradise? Rescue workers often have issues getting past unmanned security gates and maneuvering bulky emergency vehicles through them. This increases ambulance response time, which can kill you just as dead as the PCP-raging vandals lying in wait outside your fancy walls.

"...and that's why we have to make sure all the mail boxes are the same color."

As it turns out, gated communities aren't even good for the illusion of security. Multiple studies in the U.S. and the U.K. show that "residents do not necessarily experience a reduced sense of fear after moving to a gated development. In fact, people can become more fearful and anxious about leaving the safety of their community." Fences have that effect. First you like them, then you feel naked without them.

Yeah, we're thinking you'd be better off with a big dog.

For more ideas that didn't work out so well, check out The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work) and 5 Retarded Health Campaigns That Backfired (Hilariously).

And stop by Linkstorm to see how DOB's attempt at Match.com hilariously failed.

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