A nation of cyberchondriacs

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Many Americans mistakenly conclude they have a rare illness after attempting self-diagnosis on the Internet, according to a new study by researchers from Microsoft.

The company conducted the study to improve its own search engine.

Microsoft studied health-related Web searches on popular search engines and surveyed 500 of its employees about their health-related searching.

Web search engines can increase our health-related anxieties and lead us to believe worst-case scenarios, said Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence expert and medical school graduate.

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