What are the long-term effects of taking antibiotics?

A Answers (1)

  • AJoel Fuhrman, MD, Family Medicine, answered
    A history of using antibiotics more than 10 times in childhood increases the likelihood of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) by 80%, according to the largest case-control study to date of NHL risk and medication use. Other studies looking at this issue also confirm a link to cancer, including a higher rate of breast cancer, which increased as prescriptions for antibiotics increased. The investigators found that increasing cumulative days of antibiotic use and cumulative number of antibiotic prescriptions increased the risk of breast cancer, proportionally and that in the most frequent users (women given between 26 and 50 antibiotic prescriptions) had more than double the risk of breast cancer compared to women in the control group.

    Antibiotics are one of the most common medications taken by pregnant women and a new study has made convincing connections between antibiotics use during pregnancy and incidence of birth defects. Women who took sulfonamides and nitrofurantoins (frequently used for urinary tract infections) while pregnant were 2-4 times as likely to give birth to babies with heart defects. The more commonly used penicillins, erythromycins, and cephalosporins were also each associated with at least one birth defect. It is also known that giving infants antibiotics in their first year of life (and more than 90% are inappropriately prescribed and given for viruses) trigger asthma and allergies that develop later on in childhood. More than half of all babies are given prescriptions for antibiotics before they turn one.

    Antibiotics are risky medications that should be reserved for severe (and carefully documented) bacterial infections - infections that would seriously threaten the health of the patient if left untreated. We have powerful immune systems, which, when supported by excellent nutrition, will clear the more moderate infections without help from drugs.

    And don't miss the point that even though most antibiotics are prescribed and taken for inappropriate indications, even the appropriate indications would not have likely occurred if superior nutrition and the resultant increased immunity to infection was in place.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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