Prolonged antibiotic use raises the risk of pre-cancerous polyps in the colon.

A study published in the journal Gut found that women who took antibiotics for two weeks or more between their 20s and 50s were more likely to have colon polyps in their 60s than women who didn't take antibiotics for an extended period. In time, some polyps develop into colon cancer. Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Chan has said “This suggests that alterations in the naturally occurring bacteria that live in one's intestines caused by antibiotics might predispose individuals to colorectal cancer”. This study doesn’t prove definitively that antibiotics cause colon cancer; just that there is an association with their use. Only women were included in this particular study, but the finding likely applies to men too.

Antibiotics disrupt the diversity and number of bacteria in the intestines. They also reduce your resistance to the growth of harmful bacteria. Having too much bad bacteria living in your gut increases inflammation there, which is a known risk factor for colon cancer.

Prolonged antibiotic use is quite common in men and women who suffer with acne.

Many women take antibiotics for years due to bladder infections. This is potentially harmful and I have found much healthier, natural ways to treat both of those conditions. A short course of antibiotics is often necessary and can be life saving for acute infections, but long term use should be questioned. Colon cancer is becoming increasingly common, particularly in younger people. Their doctor usually doesn’t suspect the condition in someone so young, consequently it gets diagnosed too late.

Please don’t discontinue any medication without consultation with your doctor.

Reference: Andrew Chan, M.D., associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Patrick Okolo, M.D., chief, gastroenterology, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; April 4, 2017, Gut