2012 Year in Health

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on November 11, 2019

WebMD's top health stories of the year.

1. Health Care Reform Under Fire

The controversial health reform law faced a Supreme Court challenge and threats of repeal during the election. It survived, and despite ongoing resistance, will guarantee that all Americans for the first time can get health insurance.

What Obama's win means for health care

Supreme Court upholds health reform law

Special Report: Health care in the election

2. New Weight Loss Hope

After more than a decade of false starts, the FDA approved two new prescription diet drugs. The pills aren't for everyone and there are side effects. But the agency saw a need for extra help in curbing the nation's obesity crisis.

Belviq, Qsymia compared

Qsymia for sale

FDA approves Belviq

3. Dreaded Diseases

A bad year for West Nile virus. Mice transmitting hantavirus. Fleas carrying the plague. A bacteria that eats your flesh. This horror-movie-like roster of diseases was all too real - often with deadly results.

West Nile outbreak is worst ever


Hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite

Flesh-Eating Bacteria FAQ

4. Do Men Need a PSA Test?

Getting a PSA test for prostate cancer was a rite of passage for men of a certain age. That changed this year when a U.S. panel said men no longer needed the test. An angry backlash erupted, and the controversy continues.

Panel says PSA not needed

PSA test cuts deaths, but at a cost

PSA controversy Q&A

5. Fungal Meningitis Outbreak

Contaminated steroid injections from a now-closed compounding pharmacy caused a rare type of meningitis that led to deaths and serious illness while worsening a nationwide shortage of critical drugs.

New warnings in fungal meningitis outbreak

Fungal meningitis Q&A

Meningitis outbreak causes drug shortages

6. Sitting Your Life Away?

Even if you exercise, you may have what's being called "sitting disease." New studies show that too much sitting can seriously harm your health in multiple ways -- and may even shorten your life.

Sitting may shave years off our lives

Sitting may lead to heart disease, diabetes

Sitting linked to kidney disease


7. Where's My Excedrin?

A recall of the popular painkiller in January spurred a frenzied search by fans willing to spend more than $175 for it on eBay. Production problems kept some versions off store shelves until late 2012, while others will return in 2013.

Excedrin recalled

Searching for Excedrin

Surprising headache triggers

8. Designer Drug Dangers

The popularity of designer drugs such as bath salts, K2, and Spice spurred an increase in calls to poison control centers and ER visits. Banning the drugs is complicated, as drug makers skirt new laws by using different chemicals.

Bath salts FAQ

Spice, K2 sending teens to ER

K2 trend not slowing down

9. Aging Before Their Time

Even at a young age, some overweight children and teens are facing health problems normally seen in adults decades later. They include kidney disease, gallstones, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure a rising risk for teens

CDC projects huge diabetes jump in kids, teens


Gallstones in kids linked to obesity

10. Food and Drink Villains

Peanut butter tainted with salmonella, pink slime, and energy drinks vied for top billing among this year's list of food and drink villains.

More deaths, illnesses linked to energy drinks

'Pink Slime' maker cuts down production

Peanut butter recall expands

WebMD Medical Reference


© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.