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Internet Searches May Point to Medical Problems

FILE - Researchers looking through queries posted in Bing were able to identify ill people before they were diagnosed.

What we search for on the internet may offer clues about health problems before we are even aware of them.

Looking through large samples of queries posted in Microsoft's search engine, Bing, researchers were able to identify people suffering from pancreatic cancer before they were diagnosed with the disease, according to the results of a study published in The Journal of Oncology Practice.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive types of cancers, with a small chance of a five-year survival, which is why early detection is so important.

The research was based on searches posted by people experiencing early symptoms of the disease, such as yellow skin, abdominal or back pain, and unexplained weight loss.

Scientists say the results of the study could lead to the establishment of a specific health service that could monitor the web and encourage people to undergo early testing.

Data in this research was not linked to users, so people could not be identified.

Earlier, similar research looked for early detection of flu epidemics and adverse drug reactions.