Antibiotic use linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer


THE use of antibiotics has increased dramatically in recent years. New research indicates that increased use of antibiotics is linked to a greater risk of colon cancer, particularly in people under the age of 50 years.

The new data reinforce the need to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which can put individuals at further risk of health problems.

Antibiotics are extremely helpful in the treatment of infection. However, scientists are still learning about health problems that result from antibiotic use and overuse.

Results of a new study, which were shared at the European Society for Medical Oncology World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer 2021, indicate that people, especially those under the age of 50 years, may be at an increased risk of colon cancer due to the use of antibiotics.

This new information reinforces the importance of careful prescription of antibiotics and potentially adds weight to arguments for colon cancer screening among younger people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source note that antibiotics are useful in the treatment of certain types of infection.

While doctors use them to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against infections caused by viruses.

Moreover, antibiotics are not always necessary, because sometimes, the body is able to ward off the infection on its own. Unnecessary use of antibiotics is a growing concern nationally and internationally.

In the United States, the CDCTrusted Source is advocating for the careful use of antibiotics to avoid adverse effects.

For example, people taking antibiotics are at risk of Clostridioides difficile infections and other infection types that are resistant to antibiotics.

Moreover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source note that antibiotics can kill off the helpful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

In order to balance these risks, healthcare professionals need to avoid prescribing antibiotics that are not a necessary treatment.

Unneeded antibiotic prescriptions make up at least 30%Trusted Source of outpatient antibiotic prescription in the U.S.

Dr. Michael Woodworth, assistant professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA, told Medical News Today:
“A major challenge in improving healthcare provider antibiotic use is a skewed understanding of the balance of potential benefits over poorly characterized risks.

Improving stewardship of our available antibiotics is an important global priority in both reducing potential toxicities of antibiotics and selective pressures for greater resistance to antibiotics.”

Current information favors careful use of antibiotics, and researchers are still studying further risks associated with their use.

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