More Unwanted Effects Than Previously Thought

We have known for some time that one of the unwanted side effects of taking antibiotics is their disruption of friendly microbes in the gut. But now a new study that takes a closer look suggests the consequences of long-term antibiotic use could be even far-more reaching than we thought.

Antibiotics destroy cells in the lining of the gut.

Writing in the journal Gut, Andrey Morgun, an assistant professor at the College of Pharmacy in Oregon State University, Corville, and colleagues hope the study will increase understanding of the widespread damage antibiotics cause to the gut and will offer new ways to investigate and offset the consequences.

Antibiotic use is widespread – around 40% of adults and 70% of children take at least one a year, and billions of animals are treated with them.

When used properly, antibiotics eliminate life-threatening infections, but around 1 in 10 people treated with them suffer adverse side effects.

Scientists are beginning to discover that antibiotic use – and overuse especially – is associated with a range of problems that affect, among other things, glucose metabolism, the immune system, food digestion and behavior. They also suspect it is linked to obesity and stress.

Prof. Morgun says: – “Just in the past decade a whole new universe has opened up about the far-reaching effects of antibiotic use, and now we’re exploring it. The study of microbiota is just exploding. Nothing we find would surprise me at this point.”