You can generally guarantee that certain types of health news stories are going to make WebMD's most popular list: a major recall, an ailing celebrity. But there are always a few surprises. Many doctors couldn't even recognize the symptoms of whooping cough when it hit California with its worst epidemic in more than 50 years. At a time when we are talking about fighting obesity, a story about so-called "extreme" restaurant meals is extremely popular.
Here are WebMD’s most-read news stories in 2010:
There were multiple recalls of adult Tylenol products due to a musty smell this year, and the FDA is expected to issue new usage guidelines on acetaminophen (the pain reliever found in Tylenol and many over-the-counter and prescription drugs). But the most viewed story of the year showed where our hearts truly are: Our children. Forty-three child and infant products -- including children's Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl -- were recalled because of manufacturing problems that led to inaccurate amounts of the products’ active ingredients, or even the risk of tiny particles. Fortunately, no injuries or deaths were reported.
Soda shot into the headlines again when a study claimed that drinking as little as two sodas a week may nearly double your risk for pancreatic cancer. The study showed an association between the two, meaning there’s not a clear cause and effect. The beverage industry strongly protested, calling the research flawed.
Most people know who Michael Douglas is, but not many know about throat cancer. When the actor was diagnosed with a late stage of the disease, readers wanted to find out about the cancer and its symptoms and to get a sense of Douglas’ treatment and chance of recovery. It is one of those stories, as is so often the case with celebrities, that combines curiosity and caring.
This story came out just as summer was approaching, and it showed that readers want to adequately protect themselves from the sun and take care of their skin. The FDA has been promising to finalize a new rating system for sunscreens, but they have yet to release it. In the meantime, readers have been turning to other sources for guidance.
Among Americans, it has always seemed that bigger is better, whether it comes to cars, houses, or meals. As for the last, we know that’s left us with an obesity crisis. But even as we go to smaller cars and houses, it doesn’t seem to be so with food. This story takes the term “super-size” to a new level, highlighting restaurant meals that pile on enough calories and fat to cause one consumer advocate to call a Big Mac “downright dainty.” Apparently many people still desire downright gluttonous meals, but as the popularity of this story attests to, they also like to read about them.