There are countless reasons why you should avoid taking antibiotics whenever possible. And now, you’ve got another, huge reason to skip them altogether…
New research reveals that antibiotics actually increase your risk of developing colon cancer—even if the last time you took them was 10 years ago!
I’ll tell you all about that disturbing evidence in a moment, but first, let’s delve into why this new finding doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me…
The dangers of friendly fire
In the 19th century, before antibiotics came onto the scene, doctors attempted to “cure” infections with toxic metals like arsenic and mercury. The idea was that the poison would hopefully kill the bacteria before it killed the patient. (Sounds rather like modern cancer treatments, doesn’t it?)
Then came antibiotics.
They were initially considered “magic bullets,” meaning they could target the bacteria without harming the patient.
But we now know these magic bullets are really “friendly fire.” And they certainly harm the patient…it just may take longer than arsenic or mercury.
I first pointed out the dangers of antibiotics 25 years ago, when I directed the College of Physicians in Philadelphia. I also led a public exhibition demonstrating the problem. And I’ve been talking about their many problems ever since…
Short- and long-term problems of antibiotics
Antibiotics cause initial harm because they indiscriminately kill off both “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome—the environment in your gut where billions of healthy probiotic bacteria thrive.
This disruption causes short-term digestive problems, such as diarrhea and stomach pain. But over time, it can also cause long-term problems and harm your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Plus, we now know the microbiome is a key part of the mind-body-immune axis. And it’s really the front-line of your overall health. So, disrupting it repeatedly can harm your overall health, brain function, and the all-important immune system, which protects us from infections in the first place.
Knowing about this strong gut-immune system connection, I suppose it was only a matter of time before we found a connection between antibiotics and cancer as well…
It was only a matter of time…
The mainstream ridiculously tries to blame colon cancer on red meat, alcohol, obesity, and/or not engaging in excess exercise. But, as I mentioned at the beginning of this Dispatch, a new study has found that antibiotics are the real culprit…
For this study, researchers analyzed a large database of about 11 million people living in the U.K. They found almost 29,000 people had been diagnosed with colon cancer during a 23-year period from 1989 to 2012.
Then, the researchers compared those patient records to records for more than 137,000 people with similar characteristics (such as gender and age) who never developed the disease.
And they came away with four key findings…
1.) NSAIDs reduced risk
Researchers found that long-term use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) actually slightly reduced the risk of colon cancer. This finding makes some sense, as NSAIDs reduce chronic inflammation, a major risk factor for cancer. Plus, other previous studies have also come away with this same finding.
2.) Even just one course of antibiotics raised risk
Participants diagnosed with colon cancer were more likely to have taken even just one course of antibiotics over the past 10 years, compared to those who didn’t get colon cancer.
3.) There was a strong “dose response”
A strong “dose response” means that the more days a person took an antibiotic, the higher their risk of ultimately developing colon cancer. Specifically, there was an 8 percent increase in risk with 15 to 30 days of total antibiotic exposure over the 23-year study period. And there was an approximate 15 percent increase in risk with 30 or more days of total antibiotic exposure. That’s literally the definition of an arithmetic increase in risk.
Now consider this…
The typical course of antibiotics is 10 days. And I would wager most people in the U.S. have been prescribed at least one or two courses of antibiotics in their adult lives. So, it doesn’t take much to put yourself at risk for colon cancer, according to these new findings. (Just another reason why you shouldn’t “finish” your full course, if you must take an antibiotic, despite what your doctor, nurse, or PA may insist.)
4.) Higher risk of cancers in “difficult-to-reach” areas
People who took antibiotics were also more likely to develop cancer “higher up” in the proximal colon than people who didn’t take antibiotics. This difficult-to-reach area of the colon is not accessible by digital rectal examination or by sigmoidoscopy.
Plus, patients who developed colon cancer were more likely to have been prescribed “anti-anaerobic” antibiotics, such as penicillin, which target a type of bacteria called anaerobes. This type of bacteria is typically harder to treat. And again—it’s found “higher up” in the proximal colon and doesn’t need oxygen to survive. (Oxygen is found “lower” in the colon, near the exit, so to speak.)
This finding makes sense, as “anti-anaerobic” antibiotics are particularly harmful to the GI microbiome. They destroy even the healthy probiotic bacteria higher up in the gut, which don’t require oxygen. And this disruption may ultimately open the way to harmful bacteria and contribute to cancer.
Of course, mainstream medicine has contributed to the problem by over-prescribing, and outright wrongly prescribing antibiotics (for example, for viral infections) for decades. This overuse has led to the creation of antibiotic-resistant “super bugs.” And now—as this new study suggests—has contributed to colon cancer.
In the end, my recommendations remain the same. And they’re worth repeating…
1.) Avoid antibiotics whenever possible
Strive to avoid all antibiotics, unless they’re absolutely necessary to clear a serious, life-threatening infection. And some research now shows you don’t need to complete the “full course” either. In fact, they say you can safely stop taking an antibiotic as soon as you start to feel better and let your immune system do the rest. Although ignorant medical minions of big pharma in medical practice still insist you finish them all.
2.) Never take an antibiotic for a cold or the flu
Antibiotics are never appropriate for a cold or the flu (which are caused by viruses and are immune to antibiotics). Instead, you should focus on prevention and building a strong immune system. Which includes practicing good hygiene, watching where you put your hands, carrying your own pens, avoiding crowds, eating a balanced diet, keeping your blood pumping, managing stress, and getting enough sleep every day.
3.) Support your microbiome with diet
Following a balanced diet filled with prebiotic foods is the best way to support your gut health, as I discussed in the December 2018 issue of my monthly newsletter, Insiders’ Cures (“WARNING: New research shows probiotic supplements may be doing more harm than good”). Not yet a subscriber? Sign up now! And remember to skip the useless, possibly even dangerous, probiotic supplements.
These reminders are more important than ever, especially now that we’re entering cold and flu season.
“Oral antibiotic use and risk of colorectal cancer in the United Kingdom, 1989–2012: a matched case–control study.” Gut, 2019; 68:1971-1978. doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2019-318593