Health IT

Google’s top health searches for 2012: cancer, pregnancy symptoms and … hemorrhoid?

Health-related Internet searches may be on the rise, but not enough to find a spot on Google’s annual list of most popular searches worldwide.

The only things even remotely related to healthcare that appeared on the global trends list of Google Zeitgeist 2012 were Hurricane Sandy, the most-searched event of the year, and presidential debate, the eighth-most searched event.

Google studied more than 1 trillion searches, using data from internal tools and Google Trends, to compile lists of search trends by country.


The U.S. lists gave us more insight on what conditions and issues were on the brain. Not surprisingly, cancer and diabetes were the most searched health terms of 2012, followed by depression, acne, herpes and back pain. Among the top-searched symptoms were pregnancy symptoms — a common search term every year — diabetes symptoms and flu symptoms.

Meanwhile, search trends in the U.S., which are searches with the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 compared to 2011, told a different story. Hemorrhoid was the top-trending health issue in 2012. According to the chief of endoscopy at Johns Hopkins Hospital in an interview with ABC News, that might be because people would rather search for information about it online than ask their doctor. Gastroesophageal reflux disease and sexually transmitted diseases came in second and third, respectively.

Other interesting observations: The iPad 3 was the most trending of tech gadgets in 2012. “What is Obamacare?” came in eighth on the U.S.’s list of trending “What is … ?” searches but was completely absent from the top 10 election issues. Instead, more Americans were searching for abortion, gay marriage and immigration.

See all of Google’s lists here.

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