The Problem With Antibiotics That Doctors Still Ignore
Antibiotics were hailed as “miracle drugs” when they first burst onto the scene in 1942 with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors were finally able to subdue life-threatening infections with a single magic bullet, and for the first time in history we had deadly bacterial microbes on the ropes. It was a blessing—or so we thought.
Certainly, antibiotics have saved millions of lives over the decades and continue to save lives today. Only now we know there are two dark sides to these drugs that we can no longer ignore.
You’ve heard of the first. For decades, the medical mainstream did its best to ignore a frightening fact: the microbes were fighting back. In fact, bacterial resistance was first noticed just four years after penicillin’s introduction and has grown stronger ever since.
Today, antibiotic resistance is headline news. Not only does it take larger and larger antibiotic doses to quell common infections, but we’ve also seen the rise of “super bugs” like MRSA that can be deadly no matter what antibiotics we throw at them.
The second dark side to antibiotics is still largely overlooked by the medical establishment, yet it may be even more deadly than the first.
It’s simply this: antibiotics kill all bacteria in their path. Not just the pathogenic germs that cause illness, but also the nonpathogenic “good” bacteria in your gut that are absolutely critical to health.
Today’s wide-spectrum antibiotics like the penicillins, tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, sulfonamides, macrolides, and aminoglycosides are the biological equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Everything takes a bullet, not just the targeted germs, and the collateral damage to your intestinal ecology can be significant and long-lasting.
These drugs kill beneficial microorganisms that are essential
for gastrointestinal and immune system health
Doctors have ignored this kill-off for decades, but we now know how this destruction of friendly microflora can lead to chronic gastrointestinal problems, poor health, fatigue, and even life-threatening diseases.
Up to 25% of people taking antibiotics experience the immediate side-effect of diarrhea, 4 but that’s just the tip of the iceberg:
- FACT: People who take a lot of antibiotics have much higher incidences of colds and flu.5 This happens because the kill-off of beneficial bacteria leads to a significantly weaker immune system.
- FACT: Microflora kill-off by antibiotics is directly tied to the epidemic rise in Clostridium difficile infections that strike 3 million people and kill up to 20,000 victims every year.6 Even a single course of antibiotics leaves you vulnerable.
- FACT: Large-scale studies reveal an alarming correlation between antibiotics intake and increased cancer risk. One study found that people treated frequently with antibiotics had a 37% higher likelihood of developing cancer!7 Scientists believe this, too, is due to the destruction of the microflora that are critical to immune health.
For decades, doctors have willfully ignored the damage done by antibiotics to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In their eagerness to root out the bad guys, they’ve overlooked the fact that the good guys are killed too. They’ve been bombing the village to protect it, and now the village is almost destroyed.
Most people are not aware of the enormous role that beneficial bacteria play in our health, but doctors should know better.
Until they acknowledge the threat that antibiotics pose and act accordingly, you’ll have to protect yourself—and that means learning about and protecting these essential microorganisms.
The more you understand, the more you’ll appreciate why you must support your microflora with every healthy means available.
1 Linder JA. Antibiotics for Treatment of Acute Respiratory Tract Infections: Decreasing Benefit, Increasing Risk, and the Irrelevance of Antimicrobial Resistance. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2008; 47:744-746
2 Linder (2008)
3 Kilkkinen A, et al. Antibiotic use predicts an increased risk of cancer. Int J Cancer. 2008 Nov 1;123(9):2152-5.
4 Linder (2008)
5 Margolis, DJ. Antibiotics, acne, and upper respiratory tract infections. LDI Issue Brief. 2006 Feb;11(4):1-4.
6 Parker-Pope, T. Stomach Bug Crystallizes an Antibiotic Threat. The New York Times. April 14, 2009.
7 Kilkkinen (2008)