December 9, 2022

Too many antibiotics could increase the risk of colon cancer


By Robert Preidt
Health Day reporter

THURSDAY, September 2, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Here’s another reason to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use: Long-term use of these drugs could increase your risk of colon cancer, researchers say.

“While in many cases antibiotic therapy is necessary and saves lives, in less serious conditions that can be hoped for a cure anyway, you have to be careful. Mainly to prevent bacteria from developing resistance but, as this study shows, also because antibiotics can increase the risk of future colon cancer, ”said study author Sophia Harlid, cancer researcher at the ‘University of UmeÃ¥ in Sweden.

However, there is no reason to panic, she added.

“There is absolutely no reason to be alarmed just because you have taken antibiotics. The increase in risk is moderate and the effect on the absolute risk for the individual is quite small,” Harlid explained in an academic press release.

This link to colon cancer could be due to the impact of antibiotics on the gut microbiome, or gut bacteria, according to the study.

The researchers analyzed data from 40,000 patients from the Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry and compared them to a control group of 200,000 people without cancer in the general Swedish population.

Investigators also looked at data on the use of antibiotics in the Swedish Prescription Drug Register.

They found that women and men who took antibiotics for more than six months had a 17% higher risk of developing cancer of the ascending colon – the first part of the colon to be reached by food after the small intestine – than those who did not take it. do not take antibiotics.

The increased risk of colon cancer was already evident five to ten years after taking antibiotics. Even though those who took the most antibiotics had the greatest increased risk, there was a small but statistically significant increase in colon cancer risk after a single course of antibiotics, according to the study.

There was no link between antibiotics and an increased risk of descending colon cancer or an increased risk of rectal cancer in men. Women taking antibiotics had a slightly reduced risk of rectal cancer, the researchers said.

The study, published on September 1 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, confirms the results of a smaller UK study.

More information

The National Cancer Institute of the United States has more information on colon cancer.

SOURCE: Umeå University, press release, August 30, 2021