Originally published November 12 2008
Antibiotic Use Is a Flashing Indicator for Cancer Risk
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) How ironic that the very thing we were taught would save us may actually be increasing our chances of death from a fatal disease. Recent research has established the link between antibiotic use and cancer.
The International Journal of Cancer, August 14th issue reports a nationwide cohort study to determine whether antibiotic use predicts the development of various cancers. The research included 3,112,624 individuals, aged 30-79 years, with no history of cancer. Information on their antibiotic use between 1995 and 1997 was obtained from the Drug Prescription Registry in Finland. During the period from 1998-2004, 134,070 cancer cases were documented from the Finnish Cancer Registry. Regression analysis was used to estimate the relative risks.
Antibiotic use was associated with increased risk of cancer as follows: in the reference group having 0-1 antibiotic prescriptions, the risk of cancer was not increased (1.0). In the group having 2-5 prescriptions, the risk of cancer was 1.27, an increase in relative risk of 27%. In the greater than 6 prescriptions group, the risk of cancer was 1.37, and increase in relative risk of 37%.
Relative risks for the most common primary sites of the cancer were 1.39 for prostate, 1.14 for breast, 1.79 for lung, 1.15 for colon, and 2.60 for endocrine gland.
The hypothesis that use of antibiotics may increase risk of cancer was first proposed several decades ago. However, biological and epidemiological studies of the association were limited until the year 2000 when another cohort study in Finland looked at breast cancer patients. After researchers investigated 10,000 women, they found that those younger than 50 who reported taking antibiotics for urinary tract infections had elevated rates of breast cancer compared with women who didn't use antibiotics.
Then in 2004, scientists from the University of Washington, the National Cancer Institute, the Group Health Cooperative and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle sought to examine the association between the use of antibiotics and risk of breast cancer. For their case-controlled study, they examined the health records of 2,266 women over the age of 19, with primary invasive breast cancer. They also randomly selected 7,953 females as controls.
They found that increasing cumulative days of antibiotic use were associated with increased risk of incidence of breast cancer as follows: for categories of increasing use (0, 1-50, 51-100, 100-500, 501-1000, and greater than 1001 cumulative days), the odds for breast cancer development were 1.00 [reference group], 1.45, 1.53, 1.68, 2.14, and 2.07. These finding show that the risk of breast cancer doubled in those who had used antibiotics for more than 500 cumulative days. The reported antibiotic use included not only the class of fluoroquinolones, known to be carcinogenic, but also such antibiotics as tetracycline, erythromycin, penicillin VK and cephalexin.
Antibiotics were shown to be an even greater risk factor than synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT), according to the lead researcher. Synthetic HRT has been shown to pose a 30-40 percent increased risk to women for getting breast cancer. This study found that women who used the most antibiotics had up to twice the risk as women who did not use antibiotics.
The researchers place their results in the context that antibiotics may be associated with the risk of breast cancer through their effects on immune function, inflammation, and metabolism of estrogen and phytochemicals. Additional associations may include the long-term toxic effects of drugs on body function, and the overburdening of liver function in response to this toxic load. The undermining of immune function may include a surge in the growth of intestinal pathogens in response to the antibiotic suppression of the friendly bacteria. Since 80% of the immune response depends on proper bacterial balance in the intestinal tract, the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria may indirectly interfere with immune functioning.
At this point, the contextual speculations are only that. These studies are able to establish correlation. No cause-effect relationship between antibiotics and cancer has yet been established.
Undoubtedly it is best to handle suspected infections without the use of antibiotics. Proper food sanitation, a diet that provides maximum nutrition, regular exercise and stress reduction go a long way toward keeping you healthy. Eliminating products that contain artificial ingredients that must be detoxified by your liver is another good strategy. You can keep your intestinal tract well populated with friendly bacteria by using a good probiotic, or by consuming fermented foods and cultured foods containing live bacteria such as yogurt or kefir.
It's also a good idea to keep some immune boosters on hand. If you take them at the very first sign of a bacterial or viral problem, you can usually head if off before the bugs get out of control. An immune system booster that is particularly effective is the organic Insure Immune Support made by Zand, available at (www.LuckyVitamin.com) . Be sure to order the organic version (they also make one that is not organic). If cost is not an issue for you, another good product is Immunify available at (www.baselinenutritionals.com) .
Since your goal is an immune system that is functioning optimally, it's a good idea to use an immune system modulator along with a booster, to make sure the system remains balanced. Garlic and the herb Astragalus are good choices for immune system normalizers.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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