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Antibiotics largely pass through body unabsorbed and pollute environment

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: antibiotics, environment, health news

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(NaturalNews) A Virginia Tech researcher and her colleagues recently discovered that the vast majority of common antibiotic drugs end up passing through the body without breaking down and metabolizing. In fact, up to 90 percent of most antibiotics are not absorbed by the body, and end up being discharged into the natural environment where they cause antibiotic resistance genes and "superbugs" to emerge.

According to the report, excreted antibiotics regularly pollute rivers, streams, and lakes because even filtered waste water discharged from treatment plants contains them. Like other pharmaceuticals, antibiotics are able to make their way through sewage processing systems where they eventually get dumped into the environment (http://www.naturalnews.com/029314_waterways_...).

"The presence of antibiotics, even at sub-inhibitory concentrations, can stimulate bacterial metabolism and thus contribute to the selection and maintenance of antibiotic resistance genes," explains Amy Pruden, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, and author of the study. "Once they are present in rivers, antibiotic resistance genes are capable of being transferred among bacteria, including pathogens, through horizontal gene transfer."

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become highly problematic in part due to the overuse of antibiotics (http://www.naturalnews.com/029485_antibiotic...). Bacteria basically learn to adapt and become immune to antibiotic drugs, requiring ever-stronger ones to keep them at bay. But drug companies are running out of options because they simply can no longer contain the onslaught of out-of-control bacteria.

"[N]ew drug discovery can no longer keep pace with emerging antibiotic-resistant infections," wrote Pruden in her paper, illustrating the need for a different approach. Unless the medical industry and the public drastically cut their use of antibiotics, there is no telling what the ultimate consequences will be.

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