Health-related Questions: the Google App relevant Medical Facts from the Knowledge Graph

Google brings fact-checked health info to top of search results via Google app

Google-blog philosophy image
Starting today, you can ask Google about common health conditions. Google will give you relevant medical facts from their Knowledge Graph and show you typical symptoms and treatments, and details on how common the condition is.

Google Official Blog
posted by Prem Ramaswami, Product Manager, February 10, 2015.

A remedy for your health-related questions: health info in the Knowledge Graph

Think of the last time you searched on Google for health information. Maybe you heard a news story about gluten-free diets and pulled up the Google app to ask, “What is celiac disease?” Maybe a co-worker shook your hand and later found out she had pink eye, so you looked up “pink eye” to see whether it’s contagious. Or maybe you were worried about a loved one—like I was, recently, when my infant son Veer fell off a bed in a hotel in rural Vermont, and I was concerned that he might have a concussion. I wasn’t able to search and quickly find the information I urgently needed (and I work at Google!).

Thankfully my son was OK, but the point is this stuff really matters: one in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. And you should find the health information you need more quickly and easily.

So starting in the next few days, when you ask Google about common health conditions, you’ll start getting relevant medical facts right up front from the Knowledge Graph. We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.

We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only—and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.

But we hope this can empower you in your health decisions by helping you learn more about common conditions. We’re rolling it out over the next few days, in the U.S. in English to start. In the long run, not only do we plan to cover many more medical conditions, but we also want to extend this to other parts of the world. So the next time you need info on frostbite symptoms, or treatments for tennis elbow, or the basics on measles, the Google app will be a better place to start.

Related press release: Google Brings Fact-Checked Health Info to Top of Pages, livescience, February 10, 2015.

The Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing to Doctors

Ask your doctor today if he is taking pharmaceutical company money…

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars marketing drugs to doctors. We have a few issues with that.

More information

Cancer and achieving treatment for all

For World Cancer Day 2015, the year theme is #NotBeyondUs

For World Cancer Day 2015, the year theme is #NotBeyondUs. Image via @uicc.
Watch @DES_Journal diaporama and health posters album on Flickr.

World Cancer Day takes place every year on 4 February and is the single initiative under which the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), its members, partners and the entire world can unite together in the fight against the global cancer epidemic.

Under the tagline ‘Not beyond us’, World Cancer Day 2015 will take a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting that solutions do exist across the continuum of cancer, and that they are within our reach. The campaign explores how we can implement what we already know in the areas of prevention, early detection, treatment and care, and in turn, open up to the exciting prospect that we can impact the global cancer burden – for the better.

World Cancer Day 2015 is articulated around four key areas of focus:

  • Choosing healthy lives
  • Delivering early detection
  • Achieving treatment for all
  • Maximising quality of life


On Flickr®

The Full Worm Moon #FullMoonEngageMe Social Media Event N°11 #EmpireAvenue #SocialNetworking

A great opportunity for you to super charge your social networking, to meet Empire Avenue Leaders, to connect with top social media engagers and more…

full-'Worm-Moon image
In March 2015, between the 3rd and the 9th, join our free social media event taking place at each Full Moon – via #EAv – and give a boost to your social networking! Image by Distant Hill Gardens on Flickr.

The Full Worm Moon

In March, the temperature typically started to warm up. The ground begins to thaw and earthworms begin to appear ; it’s easy to see how native Americans got the name for this full moon. It’s this time of year when the crows begin to appear as well, which is why another popular name for the March full moon is the full Crow Moon. This is also known as the Sap Moon, as it marks the time when maple sap begins to flow and the annual tapping of maple trees begins. To the European settlers, this moon was also known as the the Lenten Moon and was considered to be the last full moon of winter.

#FullMoonEngageMe Social Media Event N°11 Schedule

The event will start on Tuesday the 3rd of March 2015 at 19:00 UTC and will last until Monday the 9th in HERE.

What is this about?

A great opportunity for you to super charge your social networking, meet Empire Avenue Leaders, connect with top social media engagers and more

What about the previous events?

May 2014 initial SoMe event was followed by the strawberry, the buck, the sturgeon, the harvest, the hunter, the beaver, the cold, the wolf and the full snow moons. In the Empire Avenue EAv Gangstas community, you can still access all the conversation threads.

  • Read our FAQs and use the comment section to ask any question about the event.
  • Join – for FREE – Empire Avenue at anytime – before and after any #FullMoonEngageMe social media event. You can use this link – with no strings attached – to get some extra “eaves” at start ! See you soon 😉

Primodos: Forgotten Victims call on Scottish Government to help in their Fight for Justice

Primodos victims call on Scottish Government to help in their fight for justice

Seven families say they are the “forgotten victims” of pregnancy drug Primodos – a drug which has been linked with devastating side-effects on unborn children.

Parents who claim a pregnancy drug is linked to severe disabilities in their children have called on the Scottish Government to help in their fight for justice.

Seven families say they are the “forgotten victims” of pregnancy drug Primodos, which was taken off the shelves in the late 1970s.

The drug has since been linked with devastating side-effects on unborn children – leaving the kids, in some cases, with missing limbs and other serious illnesses.

They have written to Health Secretary Shona Robison asking for help. ”

Continue reading: Parents who claim pregnancy drug is linked to birth defects call on Scottish Government to help in their fight for justice, dailyrecord, 4 February 2015.

Recent related press release: Primodos pregnancy test drug inquiry ‘must be transparent’, says MP Yasmin Qureshi, theboltonnews, 3 February 2015.

Ten reasons you should be worried about the antibiotic resistance increase

Antibiotics are essential for treating many infections but they’re losing their effectiveness

Antibiotic Resistance

Antibiotics are essential for treating many infections but they’re losing their effectiveness. Bacteria are fighting back by adapting and finding ways of surviving the effects of our medicines.

Antibiotic-resistance image
Bacteria adapt, find ways of surviving the effects of our medicines; becoming naturally resistant to antibiotics over time .

The bugs are smart – they can naturally become resistant to antibiotics over time but we’re making it worse because of overuse and misuse of our medications. This is already a risky situation and it will only get worse if we don’t take urgent action. Here are ten reasons YOU should be worried.

  1. No antibiotics = 1930s style healthcare
    If we lose our antibiotics it will be like going back to the 1930s where infections we now regard as trivial could be fatal. An infected cut could be life threatening and an illness like pneumonia would again become a mass killer. Look at the image below and imagine a return to those primitive days when we had no effective ways to treat infections.
  2. There may be no new medicines
    No new class of antibiotics has hit the pharmacy shelves for some time. Even if we discover more medicines simply replacing old antibiotics with new ones is not the only answer as they could also become ineffective. Governments and pharmaceutical companies are considering ways of tackling this situation but for now we may have to rely on the medicines we have, making it essential we ensure they remain useful.
  3. Green vaginal/penile discharge. Does that worry you?
    An unusual discharge down below is not the sort of thing that you want to leave untreated, but antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea is a serious, and scary, business. Some have called it the ‘sex superbug’ as gonorrhoea is passed on through unprotected sex or oral sex leading to symptoms including thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis and pain when urinating. If it isn’t treated it can lead to serious complications but we are already running out of antibiotics that can kill the bacteria and fight the infection.
  4. Antibiotic resistance is already here.
    When we discuss antibiotic resistance we talk about a frightening future and rightly ask for action to stop the problem from getting worse. But this doesn’t mean it’s all just an issue for future generations. It’s estimated that 25,000 people already die every year in Europe because of infections resistant to antibiotics and in the USA the figure is 23,000 people, every year.
  5. Cancer chemotherapy and effective antibiotics go hand in hand
    Chemotherapy is an important weapon in the fight against cancer, but did you know the procedure destroys our white blood cells, which we need to fight off infection? Without antibiotics chemotherapy will become increasingly dangerous.
  6. Our greatest medical advancements, ruined
    Organ transplants are a miracle of modern medicine but we need antibiotics to help a transplant patient survive, both because the transplant procedure itself may lead to infection but also because patients receive drugs that intentionally suppress their immune system to ensure their body doesn’t reject their new organ. This suppression of the immune system makes a patient more prone to bacterial infections. If we lose our antibiotics, transplants would become more risky or even impossible.
  7. It is your problem
    Sometimes talk of antibiotic resistance being a “global problem” and “threat to healthcare as we know it” may make it easy to switch off. Maybe it’s all too big? Maybe something for scientists or politicians to worry about? Think again, as this problem affects us all directly. For instance, if you are given antibiotics when you don’t need them you run the risk of carrying antibiotic resistant bacteria in your gut. If these bacteria go on to cause an infection, antibiotics may not work when you really need them.
  8. Sometimes we need antibiotics really urgently
    Heard of sepsis? It’s a common and potentially life-threatening condition triggered by an infection. Each year in the UK more than 100,000 people are admitted to hospital with sepsis and around 37,000 people will die. The best way to deal with sepsis is to treat it quickly with antibiotics. We probably don’t need to tell you what would happen if we run out of antibiotics to treat this infection.
  9. We have to save our surgery
    None of us want to think about getting ill or having a serious operation but we all understand that surgery can save lives. But complex surgery brings with it the risk of infection. Take heart bypass operations or joint replacements for instance – if we don’t have antibiotics these procedures designed to help people and ease suffering could actually lead to many more deaths caused by bacterial infections.
  10. It costs us a packet
    The human cost of antibiotic resistance is considerable but the problem also hits us in the pocket. As far back as 2009 the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said that antibiotic resistance was already costing the EU about €1.5 billion a year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity. This figure, although high, is believed to be a significant underestimate. If we don’t act this is going to get more and more costly, not only cutting into our precious healthcare budgets but individuals and families productivity too

What can we do about it?

Antibiotic Guardian Certificate image
We have to stop the overuse and misuse of antibiotics which is leading to many bacteria becoming resistant to these essential medicines.

This problem affects us all and we can all do something to help. Firstly, you can take a simple personal action by visiting our Antibiotic Guardian website and choosing one pledge that you will carry out to help save these vital medicines. There are pledges for the public, healthcare professionals and leaders.

There are plenty more things you can do too. Watch our video and learn more and talk to your family and friends about antibiotic resistance, and the fact that we don’t always need antibiotics when we’re ill. The Treat Yourself Better website will help you make good choices.

If you’re a health professional, alongside making your Antibiotic Guardian pledge, we urge you to read this blog and share our antimicrobial resistance information and resources.

Sources and more information

Estimating Pesticide Exposure from Dietary Intake and Organic Food Choices

For most Americans, diet is the primary source of OP pesticide exposure

While health-conscious individuals understand the benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies, they may not be aware of the amount of pesticides they could be ingesting along with their vitamins and fibres…

Pesticide-Spraying image
Among individuals eating similar amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower OP pesticide exposures than those consuming conventionally grown produce. Image of a helicopter spraying pesticides on a corn field via Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

2015 Study Abstract

Organophosphate pesticide (OP) exposure to the US population is dominated by dietary intake. The magnitude of exposure from diet depends partly upon personal decisions such as which foods to eat and whether to choose organic food. Most studies of OP exposure rely on urinary biomarkers, which are limited by short half-lives and often lack specificity to parent compounds. A reliable means of estimating long-term dietary exposure to individual OPs is needed to assess the potential relationship with adverse health effects.

We assessed long-term dietary exposure to 14 OPs among 4,466 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, and examined the influence of organic produce consumption on this exposure.

Individual-level exposure was estimated by combining information on typical intake of specific food items with average OP residue levels on those items. In an analysis restricted to a subset of participants who reported rarely or never eating organic produce (“conventional consumers”), we assessed urinary dialkylphosphate (DAP) levels across tertiles of estimated exposure (n=480). In a second analysis, we compared DAP levels across subgroups with differing self-reported organic produce consumption habits (n=240).

Among conventional consumers, increasing tertile of estimated dietary OP exposure was associated with higher DAP concentrations (p<0.05). DAP concentrations were also significantly lower in groups reporting more frequent consumption of organic produce (p<0.02).

Long-term dietary exposure to OPs were estimated from dietary intake data, and estimates were consistent with DAP measurements. More frequent consumption of organic produce was associated with lower DAPs.

Sources and more information
  • Estimating Pesticide Exposure from Dietary Intake and Organic Food Choices: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1408197, 5 February 2015. Full study PDF.
  • Study Helps Predict Pesticide Exposure in Diet,
    Boise State University, 5 February 2015.
  • The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen”
    summary, list and shopper’s guide.

Possible cause of IVF failure in some women identified: microRNA altered levels

miR-145 suppresses embryo-epithelial juxtacrine communication at implantation by modulating maternal IGF1R

Journal-of-Cell-Science banner image
Greater understanding of the mechanisms which control success or failure can lead directly to treatments to make IVF cycles more efficient so that infertile couples can start their families.

IVF only has around a 25% success rate, largely due to the high rates of failure when embryos try to implant. Some women suffer from recurrent implantation failure, where the embryo is transferred but fails to attach to the endometrium – the mucus membrane of the uterine wall where the embryo implants. This is a significant cause of the failure of IVF as most embryo losses occur at this early stage.

University of Manchester scientists noticed that women who try and fail multiple times to implant an IVF embryo have molecular traits in common. These women tend to have altered levels of microRNA in their endometrium…

Sources and more information

  • Possible cause of IVF failure in some women identified, University of Manchester, 2015/02/02.
  • miR-145 suppresses embryo-epithelial juxtacrine communication at implantation by modulating maternal IGF1R, The Company of Biologists Ltd, doi: 10.1242/jcs.164004, January 20, 2015.

Faut-il repenser le droit des victimes d’effets indésirables de médicaments?

Un colloque plurisdisciplinaire pour faire avancer le débat

Inscription obligatoire ici avant le mardi 10 mars 2015, 12h pour le colloque pluridisciplinaire du vendredi 13 mars 2015, Salle Colbert, 126 rue de l’Université, au 1er étage du Palais Bourbon.

Vidéos et Textes – Repenser le Droit des Victimes

  • (Re)Voir toutes les interventions du colloque, prescrire, 13 mars 2015.

Loi de santé et Risques des médicaments: les associations relancent le débat

Plusieurs associations de victimes et collectifs inter-associatifs se mobilisent en faveur d’une “palette de solutions” à proposer aux victimes d’effets indésirables graves de médicaments. Ils organisent un colloque pluridisciplinaire le 13 mars 2015 au Palais Bourbon, 126 rue de l’Université, à Paris : inscrivez-vous!

L’action de groupe en santé, attendue depuis longtemps, est bienvenue dans le projet de loi relatif à la santé (article 45). Cependant, des améliorations sont nécessaires.

Actions de groupe : rendre la voie contentieuse plus accessible aux victimes.

En cas de responsabilité des producteurs (faute ou défectuosité du médicament), les actions de groupe permettent à des victimes caractérisées par une grande similarité des situations de se regrouper, ce qui contribue à rééquilibrer le rapport vis-à-vis de firmes pharmaceutiques puissantes. Nous soutenons donc l’article 45 du projet de loi relatif à la santé instituant les actions de groupe en santé et participons à l’amélioration de sa rédaction. Ce projet nécessite en effet d’être largement amendé pour représenter un réel progrès pour les victimes d’effets indésirables graves qui pourraient en bénéficier.

Création d’un fonds d’indemnisation “produits de santé” spécifique : la solution pour rendre la voie amiable plus juste.

  • Lorsque la responsabilité d’un producteur d’un produit de santé à l’origine d’un dommage ne peut pas être engagée (a)
  • mais que le lien entre le médicament et un dommage est acquis (b),
  • les victimes d’effets indésirables graves de médicaments sont actuellement rarement indemnisées (c).

Notes :
a- Depuis l’application d’une directive européenne de 1985 relative aux produits défectueux (transposée en France en 1998), les firmes pharmaceutiques n’ont plus d’obligation de sécurité de résultat vis-à-vis des patients. En l’absence de faute ou quand le produit est considéré comme non défectueux (l’effet indésirable figurait dans la notice), les firmes ne sont pas considérées comme responsables. Elles peuvent aussi être exonérées de leur responsabilité par le risque de développement (le producteur
n’avait pas connaissance de l’effet indésirable au moment de sa survenue) ou par prescription de l’action (effet indésirable cancérogène ou tératogène survenant plus de 10 ans après la mise en circulation du médicament).
b- La victime doit apporter un faisceau d’éléments qui permettent de présumer qu’un produit de santé est impliqué dans son dommage. Nous proposons que l’imputabilité (relation de cause à effet entre la prise d’un médicament et la survenue d’un dommage) soit présumée lorsque l(es) effet(s) indésirable(s) sont mentionnés dans la présentation du produit en cause (notice, résumé des caractéristiques du produit). En cas de doute, celui-ci doit profiter au demandeur (la victime).
c- C’est en effet sur les victimes que repose la charge de la preuve, et elles ont des difficultés majeures à faire reconnaître l’imputabilité du médicament dans la survenue du dommage face aux experts. De plus, leurs séquelles sont souvent sousestimées, ne leur permettant pas d’atteindre le seuil de gravité très élevé requis pour être indemnisées.

Après plusieurs mois de travail en lien avec des juristes spécialisés en droit médical, les associations de victimes et les collectifs inter-associatifs signataires de ce communiqué proposent au Ministère de la santé et au gouvernement de se donner les moyens d’améliorer la situation des victimes d’effets indésirables médicamenteux. Leur proposition est simple : créer aussi, dans le projet de loi relatif à la santé, un fonds d’indemnisation “produits de santé” spécifique devant permettre aux victimes d’être indemnisées par la solidarité nationale dans la grande majorité des cas où la responsabilité d’un producteur d’un produit de santé à l’origine d’un dommage ne peut pas être engagée.

Un colloque plurisdisciplinaire pour faire avancer le débat.

Vous souhaitez mieux comprendre les difficultés auxquelles les victimes sont confrontées? Vous souhaitez avoir plus de détails quant aux modalités de fonctionnement que nous proposons pour ce fonds d’indemnisation “produits de santé” spécifique (financement, rôle de l’Office National d’Indemnisation des Accidents Médicaux)?


Dans l’Union européenne, les victimes d’effets indésirables graves de médicaments qui souhaitent obtenir réparation des préjudices subis sont confrontées à un parcours d’épreuves plus insurmontables les unes que les autres. Une meilleure reconnaissance des victimes d’effets indésirables de médicaments s’impose pour mieux répondre aux drames individuels, et contribuerait par ailleurs à davantage sensibiliser l’ensemble des acteurs de santé à la sécurité des soins. La matinée de réflexion organisée le vendredi 13 mars 2015 se propose, grâce à l’enchainement de plusieurs interventions brèves, de présenter un état des lieux de la situation des victimes ; puis de prolonger le débat en présentant des recommandations concrètes dont les législateurs seront invités à se saisir, notamment dans le cadre de la loi de santé.

Programme de la demi-journée de colloque

  • 9h00 : Accueil
  • 9h15 : Allocution d’ouverture :
    • Monsieur le député Gérard Bapt – vidéo ,
    • et Madame Stéphanie Chevallier, présidente de l’association Les Filles DES, qui animera la matinée
  • 9h30-10h : Victimes d’effets indésirables graves de médicaments : d’épreuves en épreuves.
    Interventions brèves de différentes associations de victimes:

    • Madame Sophie Le Pallec, Présidente d’Amalyste (association de soutien aux victimes de syndromes de Lyell et de Stevens-Johnson)
    • Madame Emmanuelle Brun, Vice-Présidente de Réseau DES France (association de soutien aux victimes du Distilbène) – vidéo et texte.
    • Madame Marine Martin, Présidente de l’APESAC (Association d’Aide aux Parents d’Enfants souffrant du Syndrome de l’Anti-Convulsivant, victimes d’exposition intra-utérine aux médicaments antiépileptiques, notamment au valproate de sodium)
  • 10h – 10h20 : Éléments-clés du cadre juridique en Europe : un droit très défavorable aux victimes.
    • Madame Sophie Le Pallec, Présidente d’Amalyste, membre du CLAIM (Collectif de Lutte contre les Affections Iatrogènes et Médicamenteuses)
  • 10h20 – 10h50 : Pause
  • 10h50 – 11h10 : En pratique : Deux voies d’actions pour les victimes, toutes deux insatisfaisantes:
    • La voie amiable;
    • La voie contentieuse (le plus souvent, devant les tribunaux civils)
      • Me Martine Verdier, Avocate à la Cour d’Orléans – vidéo et texte.
      • et Me Antoine Béguin, Avocat à la Cour d’Angers, conseiller de l’association Cadus (Conseil Aide Défense des Usagers de la Santé)
    Il s’agit de proposer une palette de solutions juridictionnelles et amiables permettant une meilleure reconnaissance et une meilleure réparation des dommages des victimes d’effets indésirables graves de médicaments.

    • Les actions de groupe en santé : en cas de responsabilité des producteurs (faute ou défectuosité du médicament), un réel progrès pour rendre la voie contentieuse plus accessible aux victimes
      • Intervention d’un représentant du Collectif Interassociatif Sur la Santé (CISS)*
      • ou de Me Karim Felissi, Avocat de la FNATH, l’association des accidentés de la vie (*à confirmer)
    • Un fonds d’indemnisation “produits de santé” spécifique et solidaire, géré par l’ONIAM : une voie amiable se donnant les moyens d’indemniser les victimes lorsque la responsabilité d’un producteur d’un produit de santé à l’origine d’un dommage ne peut pas être engagée (a), mais que le lien entre le médicament et un dommage est acquis
      • Intervention de Laurent Bloch, Co-Directeur de l’Institut du droit de la santé de Bordeaux
  • 11h40 – 12h30 : Questions/réponses
  • 12h30 – 12h40 : Clôture du colloque par Madame Irène Frachon, pneumologue, lanceur d’alerte benfluorex (Mediator) – vidéo ,
  • 12h40 – 13h30 : Poursuite informelle des échanges/interviews
Moyens d’accès :
  • Métro : Assemblée nationale (ligne 12), Invalides (lignes 8 et 13)
  • RER : Invalides (ligne C)
  • Bus : lignes 24, 63, 73, 83, 84, 93, 94
  • Pour toute information complémentaire, voir le site de la RATP
  • Stationnement des voitures : Parking payant des Invalides accessible depuis l’esplanade des Invalides et la rue de Constantine.
  • “Faut-il repenser le droit des victimes d’effets indésirables de médicaments?”, Prescrire, PDF.
  • Loi de santé et Risques des médicaments : les associations relancent le débat, Prescrire, PDF.

How to Measure a Medical Treatment’s Potential for Benefit

In truth, medical care is often far less effective than most believe

number-needed-to-treat image
People at risk for a first heart attack are often recommended to take aspirin daily to prevent it. Only a very few will actually see this benefit and there’s no way to know in advance who…

In truth, medical care is often far less effective than most believe. Just because you took some medicine for an illness and became well again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment provided the cure.

This fundamental lesson is conveyed by a metric known as the number needed to treat, or N.N.T. Developed in the 1980s, the number needed to treat tells us how many people must be treated for one person to derive benefit. An N.N.T. of one would mean every person treated improves and every person not treated fails to, which is how we tend to think most therapies work.

What may surprise you is that number needed to treat are often much higher than one. Double- and even triple-digit N.N.T.s are common. ”

Continue reading Can This Treatment Help Me? There’s a Statistic for That,
nytimes, JAN. 26, 2015.

Related post: How to Measure a Medical Treatment’s Potential for Harm,
nytimes, FEB. 2, 2015.