Web searches may predict disease risk among populations.

(Reuters Health) Internet search data might someday help estimate the prevalence of non-communicable diseases like stroke, heart disease or cancer, a new study suggests.

Web searches are often linked with behavior, said Svetha Venkatesh, one of the studys co-authors.

For example, a trip to the gym may be predicted by a search for the gyms hours, said Venkatesh, who directs the Center for Pattern Recognition and Data Analytics at Deakin University in Geelong,Australia.

Or an order for food delivery might be predicted by a search for a food delivery company, Venkatesh added.

A diagnosis or (being) suspicious of heart problems is associated with searching for symptoms, side effects and so on, Venkatesh said in an email to Reuters Health.

Venkatesh and her coauthors usedGoogleTrends to identify search terms for a one-year period and compared them to U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data on state-based prevalences of risk factors that can predict non-communicable disease, like exercise frequency, tobacco use, diagnosed high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Moar at the source:http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/01/us-searchers-disease-risk-idUSKBN0MS2Y420150401