'˜What is cancer?' tops Google's list of searches

A generation ago you couldn't get Scots to see the local GP, however it now seems our first port of call for health-related queries is the internet.

Instead of bravely soldiering on, with little more than a hot water water bottle and tartan travel rug for comfort, more and more people are diving head first into the search results believing what started out as a sore throat is now a life-threatening condition.

Google has revealed the most commonly searched topics for 2017 with the simple question ‘What is Cancer?’ coming top of the pile.

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According to experts at Google Trends, other pressing health issues searched for online by Scots this year were diabetes, blood pressure and a condition called sepsis.

While the so-called Dr Google was still being bothered with old favourites like - ‘Why am I always tired?’ and ‘Why do I feel sick?’ new questions have emerged during the year like ‘What is Lupus?’

This is linked to US singer and actress Selena Gomez who underwent a kidney transplant in September as result of contracting Systemic Lupus Erythematosus an autoimmune condition where a person’s antibodies start atttacking itself.

The data, collected from January to mid-December, shows that searches for the ketogenic diet – made famous by celebrity Kim Kardashian – quadrupled this year.

The popular diet which was initially developed for people with epilepsy in the 1920s and its revamped version involves eating a low carbohydrate, high fat diet that supposedly kickstarts the body’s fat burning processes.

Julia Frater, Cancer Research UK’s senior information nurse said: “There’s a lot of information about cancer on the web, so it’s important that people visit reputable websites that have reliable and accurate information based on research and evidence.

“And if anyone is worried about their health, the best thing to do is to visit their GP and get professional medical advice.

“For anyone concerned about cancer, Cancer Research UK’s website has easy to understand information on cancer.

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“We have also launched a new series, called Science Surgery, where people can ask us questions about cancer science and research on our blog and we have a team of cancer nurses who can answer questions.”

People were also keen to find out about opiods, presumably in light of America’s “opiod epidemic” that made headlines in October.

General topics saw a sharp rise in searches this year compared to last year, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and questions about the drug Spice.

One of the most hotly debated issues of the general election - ‘What is the dementia tax?’ featured heavily.

The divisive policy for adult and social care was short-lived with Prime Minister Theresa May axing it earlier this year.

Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, with Selena Gomez in the executive producer’s chair was also one of the most-searched topics.

The programme covers mental health through the lens of a teenager who takes her own life and leaves behind thirteen audio recordings about the people she says are to blame for her decision.

Some mental health experts branded the show dangerous for those at risk of suicide and indeed Google saw a spike in searches for suicide-related topics (including the phrase “how to commit suicide”) months after it dropped the streaming service.

However, there was also an increased number of searches for ‘suicide prevention’.

Other issues people sought Dr Google’s help with included ‘What causes hiccups?’ and ‘How to stop snoring’.