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Antibiotics Linked to Breast Cancer, Crohn's

Two studies came out last month that cast an unhealthy shadow on the overuse of antibiotics.

In a major study at the University of Washington, the use of antibiotics was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Earlier reports have suggested a link between antibiotics and increased cancer risk.

When compared to women with no history of antibiotic use, women with cumulative antibiotic use for 1 to 500 days had a 2.5-fold increased risk of breast cancer. Increasing cumulative days of antibiotic also increased the odds of dying from breast cancer.

In another study in the UK, researchers found that taking antibiotics was associated with the subsequent development of Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel condition. They surmised that antibiotics, by interfering with the mix of normal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, might be one of the contributors to Crohn's.

Antibiotics destroy the healthy balance between "good" and "bad" microorganisms in your intestines, thus allowing pathogenic organisms to multiply. This condition is called "dysbiosis", which leads to impaired absorption of nutrition, an altered response by the immune system, and impaired ability to detoxify unwanted substances. Published research has implicated intestinal dysbiosis as contributing to vitamin B12 deficiency, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune arthropathies, colon and breast cancer, psoriasis, eczema, cystic acne and chronic fatigue.

There is mounting evidence that antibiotics are overused, with possible unhealthy consequences. One reason for the overuse is that they are wrongly prescribed for colds, flu, or other viral infections. Antibiotics have no effect on viral infections. If you get a viral infection, please do not ask your MD for an antibiotic. A more effective option is to use natural anti-viral agents and other nutritional therapies that support optimal immune function. Call us for more information.

SOURCE: Gut, Feb. 2004; JAMA, Feb. 18, 2004.