Overuse of antibiotics could have serious consequences

The wave of obesity, asthma, IBS and other stomach issues could be attributable to our adoring relationship with antibiotics, a relationship that could be a source of even more serious problems in the future.

“Missing Microbes,” a book out this year from New York University School of Medicine researcher Dr. Martin Blaser, argues that antibiotics damage the bacteria we rely on to help us digest food, and ultimately can cause us bigger, more chronic problems down the road.

One of the most stirring examples Blaser cites is the connection between antibiotics and obesity. We feed livestock antibiotics to help them grow much bigger than they would otherwise, don’t we? Blaser fed mice in his lab a series of antibiotics, and found that the drugs had long term effects on the way their livers metabolized food.

Obesity joins gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s, celiac and ulcerative colitis, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, chronic reflux and more in a group of illnesses that are prominent in the developed world and linked to a disruption in the human microbiome, according to the New York Times Well blog, which took a look at Blaser’s book.

All of Blaser’s research adds to the consequences of overuse of antibiotics that we already knew about: bacteria are becoming more and more resistant to our antibiotic tools.

To read more about Blaser’s research and book, visit the New York Times’ Well Blog.