Antibiotics are a necessary evil. Except when they’re not… which happens to be the case a lot more often than it should be.
The fact is, overuse of these drugs has led us down a very dangerous path. One that’s teeming with antibiotic-resistant superbugs—not to mention a long list of other risks, from delirium to heart disease and diabetes.
And now, you can add cancer to that already terrifying list.
Just 16 days could put you in danger
I’ve mentioned the long-term risks of antibiotic use to gut health before. But this latest study really drives the danger home. Why? Because it shows that just one course of antibiotics raises your risk of receiving a colon cancer diagnosis nearly a decade down the road.
In analyzing data from the U.K.’s Clinical Practice Research Datalink, researchers identified a significant increase in colon cancer risk over more than eight years of follow-up, even after minimal antibiotic use.
After accounting for factors like smoking and drinking habits, they found that total antibiotic exposure equaling 16 or more was enough to increase colon cancer risk—which rose by roughly 15 percent with 30 to 45 days of exposure.
Penicillin drugs were the main culprits here. Though interestingly, this increase was only for cancer in the proximal colon (basically, the first half) as opposed to the distal.
Anti-anaerobic antibiotics also had a strong link to colon cancer. Which makes a lot of sense to me. Your microbiome is largely populated by anaerobic bacteria. So if you take anti-anaerobic antibiotics?
Well, obviously, it’s going to decimate your gut’s population of good bacteria too. And you can probably guess what happens next…
I should note that researchers also found that antibiotic exposure appeared to have an overall protective effect against rectal cancer, lowering risk by 15 percent among patients with a cumulative 60 days or more of antibiotic treatment under their belt. (This was particularly true for tetracyclines antibiotics.) But that doesn’t make the dangers of these drugs any less risky.
One step forward…
Is it really any surprise that a disrupted gut microbiome might make your colon more vulnerable to cancer? It isn’t to me… though I’ll admit to a fair amount of shock, when you consider how widely used these medications are.
Obviously, I’m happy to see modern medicine finally coming into the light when it comes to gut health. Your microbiome affects your body in so many different ways that we’re only just beginning to unravel.
But if this doesn’t also lead to more conservative attitudes towards antibiotics—which kill both the bad and the good bugs indiscriminately—then we really are taking two steps back.
This new study was only observational, which means it can only point out connections, not causes. But no matter how you spin the outcome, it’s clear that something needs to change.
As I mentioned above, colon cancer is hardly the only threat on the table. So I truly hope these results inspire a lot more caution where antibiotic prescriptions are concerned—regardless of whether or not they turn out to be directly implicated in this disease.
Because you know what? There’s just no need to treat most infections with antibiotics, which are useless against viruses anyway. And in the cases where they are absolutely necessary, prescribing the briefest possible courses of targeted antibiotics—not broad-spectrum bombing—is always the safest way to go. So be sure to ask questions before automatically filling that script.
And always remember: If you take care of your gut, it will take care of you. But if you need some extra guidance, take a look at the March and April 2019 issues of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives.
Subscribers have access to those articles, and everything else I’ve ever written, in my archives. So if you haven’t already… consider signing up today. You really don’t want to miss this.
P.S. If you or a loved one is suffering with a recent cancer diagnosis, the medical mainstream’s slash-poison-burn approach to treatment isn’t your only option. In my Essential Protocol to a Cancer-Free Future, I discuss the simple, science-based strategies to fortify your cellular defenses—and stop cancer in its tracks. Click here to learn more, or to sign up today.
“Antibiotics Use and Increased Risk of Colon Cancer?” Medscape Medical News, 08/21/2019. (medscape.com/viewarticle/917111)