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Could too many antibiotics increase your chances of developing colon cancer?

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TUESDAY July 6, 2021 (HealthDay News)

Antibiotics may increase the risk of colon cancer, especially in young people, British researchers report.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to link the use of antibiotics to the increasing risk of early-onset colon cancer – a disease that has increased at a rate of at least 3% per year over the past two decades, ”said study co-author Sarah Perrott, cancer researcher at the University of Aberdeen.

Researchers’ comparison of data from nearly 8,000 people in Scotland with colon and rectal cancer to people without the disease found an association between antibiotic use and an increased risk of colon cancer at all ages.

The study, however, found significant age-related differences. Antibiotic use was linked to an almost 50% higher risk of colon cancer in people under 50 and a 9% higher risk in the elderly.

In younger people, antibiotic use has been linked to cancers of the right side of the colon. Quinolones and sulfonamides / trimethoprim – antibiotics used to treat a wide range of infections – have been linked to these cancers.

The study does not prove that antibiotics cause these cancers, only that there appears to be a link.

But the researchers said their findings add to concerns about the effects of an estimated 65% increase in antibiotic use worldwide between 2000 and 2015.

The results were presented on Friday at the 2021 ESMO World Gastrointestinal Cancer Congress, held online.

“Junk food, sugary drinks, obesity and alcohol probably played a role in [the rise in colon cancer], but our data underscores the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, especially in children and young adults, ”Perrott said in a press release.

Lead author Dr Leslie Samuel noted that the contents of the right side of the colon are more liquid, and the natural bacteria that live there, called the microbiome, may be different from bacteria that reside further in the colon.

“We now want to know if there is a link between antibiotic use and changes in the microbiome that may make the colon more susceptible to cancer, especially in young people,” he said in the statement. .

Samuel, a consultant oncologist at the Royal Aberdeen Infirmary, said it was a complex challenge. This is because the microbiome can quickly return to its previous state, even when the colon is cleaned for a diagnostic procedure such as an endoscopy.

“We don’t yet know if antibiotics can induce effects on the microbiome that could directly or indirectly contribute to the development of colon cancer,” Samuel said.

Research presented at meetings is generally considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The National Cancer Institute in the United States has more on Colon Cancer.

SOURCE: European Society for Medical Oncology, press release, July 2, 2021

Robert Preidt

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