Report: Antibiotics can permanently destroy gut flora balance, leading to lifelong illness
Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Professor Martin Blaser from New York University's (NYU) Langone Medical Center has been studying the long-term effects of antibiotics on gut flora, which has already confirmed a definitive link between antibiotics and the disruption of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. But what his research also seems to confirm is the possibility that such disruption might be permanent, at least in some individuals, and thus carry with it lifelong health consequences.
"Early evidence from my lab and others hints that, sometimes, our friendly flora never fully recover," writes Blaser in his shocking editorial. "These long-term changes to the beneficial bacteria within people's bodies may even increase our susceptibility to infections and disease. Overuse of antibiotics could be fueling the dramatic increase in conditions such as obesity, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, allergies and asthma, which have more than doubled in many populations."
Blaser suggests that, even at this preliminary stage, restrictions be put in place to clamp down on the rampant overprescription of antibiotics to young children and pregnant women, a misguided practice that is likely responsible for causing each new generation to "[begin] life with a smaller endowment of ancient microbes than the last."
If antibiotics truly are responsible for causing a permanent imbalance of gut microbiome in some people, then supplementation with probiotics may also be necessary throughout such individuals' entire lives in order to simply maintain a normal, healthy balance.
At this point in time, vastly reducing the prescription rates of antibiotics to people of all ages -- and particularly to young children and pregnant mothers -- is of first priority. Along with this is a much-needed ban on the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in conventional cattle-raising operations, which end up in the food products eaten by millions of Americans every single day.
Be sure to read the entire synopsis of Blaser's new report in Nature over at Wired:
Oct. 18, 2011