According to a recent study published in the journal Gut, long-term use of antibiotics during adulthood increases the likelihood of developing precursors to bowel cancer. The research, once again, underlines the vital role of gut bacteria.
The findings add to evidence that the type and diversity of bacteria in the gut, referred to as the ‘microbiome,’ may have a key role in the development of cancer.
In the study, data from 16,642 women who were aged 60 and older in 2004, able to provide a history of antibiotic use between the ages of 20 and 59, and who had had at least one bowel investigation between 2004 and 2010, was analysed.
During this period, 1195 adenomas were newly diagnosed in this group.
Recent use of antibiotics within the past four years wasn’t associated with a heightened risk of an adenoma diagnosis, but long term use in the past was.
Compared with those who hadn’t taken antibiotics for any extended period in their 20s and 30s, those who had taken them for two months or more were 36 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with an adenoma.
Experts revealed women who had taken antibiotics for two months or more during their 40s and 50s were 69 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with an adenoma than those who hadn’t taken these drugs for any extended period.
Again, the scientists found the association between the tumours and antibiotics was positive.