A new study shows that people who take multiple courses of antibiotics are at increased risk for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, most likely because antibiotics change the bacteria in their guts (European Journal of Endocrinology, published online March 24, 2015). The more antibiotics a person takes, the more likely he is to become diabetic.
The authors combed through 1,804,170 patient records and found 208,002 diabetics and 815,576 non-diabetics. Those who had received two to five courses of antibiotics were at increased risk for diabetes one or more years later. People who took more than five courses of quinolone antibiotics had a 137 percent chance of developing diabetes, compared to those who did not take antibiotics. Those who took five or more course of tetracyclines had a 121 percent increased risk. There was no increased risk from taking drugs to kill viruses or fungi.
Other studies in both humans and animals have shown that: • Early childhood exposure to antibiotics is associated with obesity in later life. • People with diabetes have different bacteria in their guts from those who do not have that disease. • Fecal transplants from obese mice cause thin mice to become fat. • Putting thin mice on antibiotics can make them fat. These and many other studies suggest that taking antibiotics is associated with changes in the bacteria in your gut that can increase risk for obesity, diabetes and inability to respond to insulin.
What This Study Means for You Don’t try to push your doctor into prescribing antibiotics for every infection. Doctors have a tough time deciding when to prescribe antibiotics. They know that what appears at first to be a simple infection can, on rare occasions, end up as a life-threatening disease. They also know that antibiotics do not treat the common cold and that antibiotics change the bacteria in your intestines which can harm you. Furthermore, it can take days to get back the results of a culture, a long time to wait for treatment for a potentially critical disease. A good doctor will communicate with you and tell you why he will, or will not, prescribe antibiotics and will tell you to call him immediately if your disease worsens.
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