Top 5 Health Stories of 2011

Dan Childs reviews the year's top headlines in health news.
6:34 | 12/27/11

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Transcript for Top 5 Health Stories of 2011
This year health stories and rope on to the front page with tales of deadly outbreaks and miraculous recoveries. Here to walk us through the top five health stories from 2011. ABC news health editor dance and great to see you great seats on you've compiled a very nice list here of the top in the top health stories of the year let's start with number. Five -- -- are way up. All the tainted cantaloupe tainted with listeria. Yes this was definitely one of the biggest stories of the year -- was hard to take because they were so many but we couldn't think of one story that made more people afraid to eat breakfast then. This story about this deadly listeria outbreak that hit about 28 states. In total we just revise these numbers -- beginning of this month thirty people. Lost their lives in this outbreak thirty people is that one of the largest tainted food outbreaks in recent memory actually it's it's the largest one in US history that's been linked to a single -- and in a single food. -- and I think one of the things that it shows -- so starkly is how quickly. One of these outbreaks can spread across the country and -- 28 different states and what steps have been taken how to prevent something like this happening in the future. -- the FDA is always looking into ways to to -- process they actually managed to you take a look at the plant where all of these things were coming through in Southern California. And they found some of the things that might -- contributed to this but. Truth be told there's still a lot of things that need to be corrected before we can to completely protect ourselves against outbreaks like this. Absolutely sounds scary at such a scary story militant -- -- coming up quite as scary but definitely affecting a large number of people. Breast cancer screening guidelines changed in 2011 it was quite controversial. Right it was tremendously controversial and specifically the change was that a women fifty to 74 should get. Their breast cancer screenings. -- once every two years. And women forty to 49 shouldn't have to worry about it now these were based on a study of more -- a 100000 women. That found that screening this age group between forty and 49 was not necessarily beneficial in terms of the overall population. Now this caused a huge huge uproar now among women who is that you know -- that I diminish the number of things -- Yes and we we actually found through asking doctors that. If you asked ten doctors about this you gonna have five on each side because some are going to say hey this is something that saves lives it's. Absolutely necessary and others that say this is actually. You're going to put people through unnecessary screenings unnecessary surgery and it's a waste of money so and maybe unnecessary false positives. -- more. Screening and -- and that's entirely possible and the women are kind of caught in the middle cause -- wondering what do you do now. Right -- is still store that will continue into 2012. I'm sure we're thinking yeah continue to talk about this -- That next. Is the drug shortages that a lot of pharmacies and drugstores faced this past year what was behind that -- -- this was probably one of the most interest in stories that we covered this year just because it extended all the way from February throughout the rest of the year. There were a number of hospitals that reporting drug shortages and these are important drugs drugs for cancer treatment drugs for heart conditions. Some very very high profile on drugs -- hundred -- the eight drugs total. That hospitals did not have enough votes to treat their patients and -- cry what was to account for the shortage all of the companies actually responsible for creating these drugs. In some cases they were production lags in some cases. Because there -- generics out on the market in no longer became profitable for the companies to produce these drugs they were actually operating a -- -- -- -- and the generics couldn't keep pace with the demands correct or they didn't even sell in the United States so all this culminated in this in this. Big problem. Where even some of the middleman for these drugs we're actually price gouging or some reports of price gouging where they were charging hospitals much more than what these medicines for work now is this problem continuing -- hasn't been resolved at this point as of right now it still continues the FDA actually. Actually President Obama signed an executive order that gave the FDA more oversight in terms of what needed to be done to solve this but. For right now this is no longer and this is -- solved yet and this is probably something that's going to be another. Ongoing stories of 2000 that's right now of course there was the devastating tsunami that hit Japan in March and of course that is caused. Lasting here over the radiation that could still be affecting Japan and possibly even a wider area. What you tell us more about the story I think. -- alarm bells really went up for people in the United States when they start detecting very very small Trace amounts in milk that was produced on the West Coast now we actually did the math and we found out that you would need to drink something like -- a tanker truck and a half worth of this -- to approach the threshold. But whenever you say radiation people get very very concerned about that and it's understandable where we're taught to fear. And it's a Clinton thing a little bit of radiation in your mouth add to that. X ray had to get for your teen add to what I mean you -- we radiation doesn't go away never leaves your body. Right and it's it's something that that certainly got a lot of people worried a lot of people were looking forward the potassium iodide tablets. If if you recall win at a Wendy's Beatty and fears about -- coming up. Again will be a story and -- continue to follow with. With interest now lastly our number one story of the year with the miraculous recovery of congresswoman -- real difference what an inspiring story. This woman was far and away one of the most fascinating stories -- the entire year it started beginning of the year with the actual shootings and her her unlikely survival from that and was a story about traumatic brain injury the idea that you could actually sustain this type of injury and and survive. But the questions as to a recovery we're very much in the air. As as we saw today in when Diane Sawyer interviewed her most recently she's made -- amazing recovery it's it's been incredible and it brings in so many different health topics. One of which is music therapy because she's she uses singing and -- try to get her speech back it's it's really amazing and it's going to be amazing to see what happens next through the end stand -- thank you so much for all of that. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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