Antibiotics linked to colon cancer (again)

Antibiotics linked to colon cancer (again)

Taking antibiotics has been linked yet again to an increased risk of colon cancer and the link is most pronounced for the proximal colon with antibiotics like penicillin that target anaerobic bacteria; however, antibiotics seem to offer a reduced risk of rectal cancer

Researchers from the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Norwich Medical School UK, identified 28,980 cases of colorectal cancer and 137,077 matched controls in the period 1989 – 2012 in the UK from Datalink for this study, the largest of its kind to date(1).

They found that antibiotic use increased the risk of colorectal cancer in a dose-dependent fashion and that the increased risk was observed after minimal use.

The risk also varied between the use of antibiotics targeting anaerobic bacteria or aerobic bacteria, the former being worse. Penicillins, particularly amoxicillin and ampicillin, significantly increase the risk of colon cancer.

The risk also varied by region of the gut – antibiotics had the strongest link to cancer in the proximal colon.

By contrast, antibiotic use of greater than 60 days had an inverse relationship to rectal cancer, reducing risk, especially if taking tetracyclines as antibiotics (tetracycline, doxycycline).

The antibiotic risk factor was greatest where more than 10 years had passed.

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, “Antibiotics are essential medicine and save lives, although it is troubling that 50% of them are prescribed for conditions where they have no possible effect. Although this is the largest study to date, we have had others (2) that concluded antibiotic exposure, especially when taken for more than 10 days in one course, increased risk of CRC. We started putting together an article on the research links between lost gut bacteria, increases in pathogens, and CRC as long ago as 2005. The links for CRC to antibiotics, drugs and food poisoning are pretty clear”.

Go to: The role of gut bacteria in colorectal cancer

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  2. Three studies link taking antibiotics to colorectal cancer risk

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