Researchers at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, urge doctors and patients not to take too much antibiotics. New data suggests that excessive use of such drugs can significantly increase the risk of colon cancer. This is especially true for people under the age of 50. The scientists presented their results at the World Gastrointestinal Cancer Congress. This took place from June 30th to July 3rd, 2021.
Are too much antibiotics supposed to actually cause colon cancer?
This should be the first study to link the use of antibiotics to the risk of colon cancer. The latter is a disease whose incidence has increased by at least 3% per year over the past two decades. Poor diets, such as sugary drinks and fried foods, obesity, and alcohol may have played a role in this increase. However, the current data suggests the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use, especially in children and young adults, according to the study authors. To reach these conclusions, the researchers used a large Scottish database and tracked around 8,000 people with colon cancer (colon and rectum) as well as healthy individuals.
Scientists found that taking antibiotics at any age is associated with a high risk of colon cancer. However, this risk increased by 50% for participants under 50 compared to 9% for those over 50. In the youngest group, antibiotic use was linked to cancer of the first part of the colon: the right side. It is precisely in this area that the good bacteria live, i.e. the healthy microbiome of the intestine. Heavy use of antibiotics can therefore compromise the proper balance of these bacteria, which, accordingly, could lead to the development of cancer. It is important to clarify that this study is hypothesized as the study results are mainly based on observations. For this reason, the researchers plan to deepen their research on this topic in the future.