Antibiotics are doled out like candy, but even one course can SKYROCKET deadly disease risk
America is nothing if not the “land of excess.” So, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we OVERPRESCRIBE DRUGS, especially antibiotics.
Just consider these recent numbers…
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year, we prescribe nearly 300 million courses of antibiotics in outpatient settings (which are doctor visits outside of hospital visits).1
That startling figure equates to:
- More than five prescriptions written for every six people in the United States
- Almost one course of antibiotics—ANNUALLY—for every living person
And that doesn’t even include all the antibiotics given to people in the hospital!
What’s worse is that about 28 percent of antibiotics prescribed in outpatient settings are considered unnecessary. And “total inappropriate antibiotic use” may eventually account for a staggering 50 percent of all prescriptions!
Now, we can’t entirely blame the mainstream medical system for creating this shocking epidemic of overprescribing…
In fact, often times, it’s the patient who drives the inappropriate use. They come down with a bad cold and lobby their doctor for an antibiotic, “just in case…”
Just in case of what?
I mean, you either have a bacterial infection or you don’t. Even a bad head cold with a fever doesn’t warrant an antibiotic—EVER.
(Antibiotics can ONLY fight infections caused by bacteria… NOT a run-of-the-mill upper respiratory infection.)
Of course, in the end, the doctor should know better. They should just say “no” and refuse to write the prescription.
But that’s not always the case.
Let’s talk about why this is such a disaster in the making… and why even one course of antibiotics can SKYROCKET your risk of developing a DEADLY disease.
Common prescription has a DARK side
When it comes to prescribing antibiotics, some doctors tend to fold under pressure—or give in due to the strict time constraints they have with each patient. Sometimes, they even write scripts for patients who have ZERO symptoms…
In fact, in a recent study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, researchers asked 723 primary care physicians, “What would you do in this kind of scenario?”
Then, they proceeded to explain that a patient came into their office for a routine visit with ZERO urinary tract infection symptoms—such as burning upon urination or frequent urination. But upon lab testing, the patient’s urine showed trace amounts of bacteria.2
It turns out, about 70 percent of the doctors said they WOULD prescribe antibiotics.
That’s really mind blowing because, for nearly 20 years, medical organizations have been strongly advocating against the routine use of antibiotics in this EXACT kind of situation!
For one, overwhelming evidence indicates that antibiotics are not helpful for asymptomatic patients. Plus, the drugs often lead to adverse health effects—such as diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, and yeast infections. And, in rare cases, they can even cause death due to an overgrowth of the dangerous C. difficile bacteria in the colon.
But that’s not all.
Just one course of antibiotics can also raise your risk of developing deadly colon cancer.
In another major study, researchers analyzed data on antibiotic use over 23 years among about 11 million people living in the U.K.
They found that people who received just one course of antibiotics had a “significant” increase in colon cancer risk over more than eight years of follow-up.
Plus, there was a strong “dose response”—meaning the more days a person took an antibiotic, the higher their risk of ultimately developing colon cancer.
Specifically, there was an 8 percent increase in colon cancer risk with just 15 to 30 days of antibiotic exposure over the 23-year study period. And there was an approximate 15 percent increase in risk with 30 or more days of antibiotic exposure. (Penicillin drugs posed the most risk.)
Now consider this…
The typical course of antibiotics is 10 days. And I would wager most people in the U.S. have been prescribed at least one or two courses of antibiotics in their adult lives.
So, according to these findings, most Americans probably already have a higher risk of developing colon cancer… and they don’t even realize it!
Of course, the reason behind this deadly increase in colon cancer risk isn’t a great mystery. Research clearly shows that antibiotics disrupt your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome.
Remember, your GI microbiome is the environment in your gut where billions of healthy bacteria thrive. And experts now believe it’s the frontline of defense against countless diseases, including cancer.
Now, let’s move on to yet another reason why we should do everything we can to curb the overuse and misuse of antibiotics. This one involves the ENTIRE GLOBAL POPULATION…
Coming soon: Top cause of death worldwide
Simply put, the overuse and misuse of antibiotics leads DIRECTLY to the creation of new antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And this frightening process has already rendered many antibiotic drugs COMPLETELY USELESS against certain germs.
I’m not even being an alarmist here…
In the U.S. alone, every year, there are more than 2.8 million antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. And each year, they kill more than 35,000 people.4 Plus, according to some experts, antibiotic resistance could be a top cause of death worldwide by 2050.
Now, with all that being said, we will ALL need to take an antibiotic from time to time—when we develop a bacterial infection or when we undergo certain medical procedures. There’s no way around it.
But the important piece of the puzzle that many people overlook is this…
We want there to be an effective drug in the tool kit that will work when we actually need it! This is precisely where Big Pharma could help… but chooses not to.
More specifically, Big Pharma isn’t interested in developing new antibiotic drugs because they say they aren’t a good enough return on their investment compared to, for example, a type 2 diabetes drug, which people take for years on end.
In fact, it takes about 10 to 15 years and $1.3 billion to bring a new antibiotic to the market. And, poor dears, they say they just don’t get enough of that money back.
To sweeten the pot, powerful lobbyists recently got U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to introduce a bill called the Pasteur Act. It would purportedly give $11 billion in incentives to pharmaceutical companies to conduct new antibiotic drug research.
But—I’m not holding my breath that the bill will ever pass… or that any companies will actually jump on it. Not to mention the fact that throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to fix anything. It will just kick the can further down the road.
To really fix the problem, we need a fundamental change in the way we think about treating run-of-the-mill illnesses, like the common cold and seasonal flu.
Until that happens, I suggest focusing on ways to reduce your own exposure to dangerous (and potentially deadly) antibiotic drugs.
Five rules to follow
- Only take an antibiotic when absolutely necessary. Again, these drugs should only be prescribed to treat symptomatic bacterial infections—or prior to certain medical procedures. Then, be sure to only take the drug as prescribed… and for the shortest duration possible. (Never take leftover antibiotics from your own medicine cabinet or from someone else’s.)
- Never taken an antibiotic “just in case” or for viral infections. This includes common upper respiratory infections, like a head cold, the flu, or even COVID-19. Try preventing these instead, so you never go down the “just in case” rabbit hole. Stock up on vitamins A and D, olive leaf extract, oil of oregano, zinc, and quercetin. I’ve never met a cold I couldn’t kick or avoid with those simple tools.
- Avoid developing bacterial infections. Take precautionary measures, like washing your hands often, getting enough sleep, and cutting out sugar and white foods, like bread and pasta, which suppress your immune system.
- Take a good, daily probiotic. This will help build and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. And it will go a long way in replenishing all the “good” bacteria that get flushed out of your gut after taking an antibiotic. Look for a pill that contains prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. And remember, more isn’t necessarily better. The key is diversity of strains.
- Stick with organic meat, eggs, and dairy. This will help you to avoid the onslaught of antibiotics given to animals raised conventionally. And when consuming fish, always opt for wild-caught for the same reasons.
In the end, just remember that antibiotics are NOT harmless medications. And, despite their widespread reputation, they’re certainly not the cure-all for everything that ails you.
So, if you can avoid taking them, you should. Your body will be far better off for it—especially when the time comes where you actually NEED a prescription to save your life.
A stark WARNING for parents and grandparents
Many pediatricians dole out antibiotics like candy to children, even though we know most common childhood illnesses, like ear infections, don’t respond to them. And that’a another disaster in the making.
In fact, according to a brand-new study, infants who received antibiotics (and did not breastfeed) had a 300 percent higher risk of developing asthma by age five.5
The researchers said that antibiotics have a harmful effect on the developing microbiome. And I quite agree. (I can only imagine the lifelong effects of this early disruption to the microbiome!)
If you notice your grandchild has developed an ear infection or fever… and their parents are told to give them an antibiotic to treat it… discuss your concerns. Make sure they are informed and understand that there ARE real, lasting consequences tied to even one course of antibiotics. Knowledge is power. And—the effects could last a lifetime.
- “Measuring Outpatient Antibiotic Prescribing.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10/5/22. (cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/data/outpatient-prescribing/index.html)
- “Exploration of Primary Care Clinician Attitudes and Cognitive Characteristics Associated With Prescribing Antibiotics for Asymptomatic Bacteriuria.” JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(5):e2214268. doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.14268
- “Oral antibiotic use and risk of colorectal cancer in the United Kingdom, 1989–2012: a matched case–control study.” Gut. 2019 Nov;68(11):1971-1978.
- “AR Threats Report.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed 1/7/23. (cdc.gov/drugresistance/biggest-threats.html)
- “Breastfeeding enrichment of B. longum subsp. infantis mitigates effect of antibiotics on the microbiota and childhood asthma risk.” Med, 2023. doi.org/10.1016/j.medj2022.12.002