1. Paging Dr. Google

    How patients misdiagnose themselves online

    You have cancer!

    Well, Google thinks you do anyway -- because no matter what symptoms you type into the search engine, the results will connect it to cancer.

    Headaches? Cancer!

    Blurry vision? Cancer!

    Pain? Cancer!

    Got an itch? Cancer!

    Tired all the time? Do you even have to ask?

    If you've ever used Google yourself to track down medical information (and who hasn't?) you've probably had your own search engine-induced cancer scare at some point.

    Obviously, you're not alone. In fact, a new survey out of the UK finds that a quarter of all women have thought they had a disease they didn't really have thanks to "Dr. Google" -- and number one on the list was breast cancer.

    Number two? All other cancers.

    I'm surprised the number was so low -- because it seems like 100 percent of men and women alike end up convinced they have cancer and any number of other diseases (often rare and deadly ones) after a Google search.

    What makes this self-diagnosis so much worse than just a false disease scare is that many people take the next step and medicate themselves based on what Dr. Google says -- and at least 10 percent of women in the survey experienced side effects because of the drugs they took for a condition they didn't even have.

    (Again, that number sounds low to me.)

    The survey was funded by the maker of a drug for bacterial vaginosis, a condition women often mistakenly believe is thrush based on search engine results. And indeed, thrush was the number three condition on the list.

    But really, you shouldn't be self-diagnosing -- and certainly not self-medicating -- for thrush, vaginosis, cancer, or anything else Dr. Google thinks you have.

    The Internet is a tool to inform and empower patients. You can use the information you find online to question your doctor's diagnoses and treatments -- but you can't question him if you don't see him in the first place.

    For a good example of something to question your own doctor about, keep reading.

  2. Phony panic over flu drugs

    Ineffective flu drug loses effectiveness

    Tamiflu doesn't work? Tell me something I don't know!

    It's already one of the most ineffective "treatments" on the planet -- but World Health Organization researchers claim it's now completely ineffective against at least one strain of swine flu in Australia.


    You'll have to excuse me for not getting worked up over this -- because Tamiflu is barely more effective than wishful thinking even in the best of times, cutting symptoms by about a day or so.

    And even then, it only "works" if you take the med within 2 days of the first symptoms.

    Since most people don't even make it to the doctor unless they've been sick for several days, that makes Tamiflu about as useful against flu as an empty tissue box.

    But the WHO researchers are ready to turn this into a full-blown panic, claiming that this might be especially bad for seniors, who could face a higher risk of flu complications without the drug.

    I guess these scientists haven't been keeping up with the science -- because a major review from the Cochrane Collaboration found that Tamiflu may do zippo for flu complications anyway.

    It doesn't lower the risk of respiratory infections, pneumonia or anything else -- and it comes with a risk of side effects that can be every bit as bad as the flu itself: nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

    It's also been linked to severe allergic reactions, confusion, hallucinations and bizarre behavior -- especially in children.

    I'll take the flu over that any day!

    Let me tell you what's really going on here: This has been an incredibly mild flu season -- yet again -- so no one's getting vaccinated. But if people hear flu drugs don't work, maybe they'll run out and get a flu shot after all.

    But you don't need a vaccine to avoid the flu... and you certainly don't need Tamiflu to beat it if you do happen to catch the virus, no matter what strain it is.

    Try chicken soup and vitamin D instead.

  3. LA bans fast food restaurants

    In the interest of "public health and safety," the city council of a South Los Angeles district has told fast food chains that they can't open new restaurants in the area for the next year.
  4. Put down that drumstick!

    In early November, 212 workers at a single Alabama poultry processing plant tested positive for tuberculosis.

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