Antibiotics linked to increased risk of bowel cancer

The link between lengthy antibiotic prescriptions — which can alter the gut microbiome — and colorectal cancer has been strengthened by new findings published in the journal Gut.

While previous research has associated antibiotic use with colorectal cancer, the link between antibiotics and bowel polyps — a harbinger of the majority of colorectal cancers — has not been investigated.

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For the study, researchers analyzed health data of 16,642 nurses compiled in the 2010 U.S. Nurses' Health Study. Participants had undergone at least one colonoscopy. Analysis of the data revealed nurses aged 20 to 39 and 40 to 59 who had been treated with antibiotics for two months or more had a significantly higher risk of developing colorectal adenoma (bowel polyps).

"These data provide additional support for the association of antibiotics with colorectal cancer and the potential mediating role of the gut microbiome in carcinogenesis," wrote the study's authors. "Additional studies investigating the impact of antibiotic exposure with gut microbial composition and function, particularly in relation to the mechanisms underlying colorectal carcinogenesis, are warranted."

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