Eradicating dangerous bacteria may cause permanent harm

Aug 24, 2011

In the zeal to eliminate dangerous bacteria, it is possible that we are also permanently killing off beneficial bacteria as well, posits Martin Blaser, MD, Frederick H. King Professor of Medicine, professor of Microbiology and chair of the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center. His commentary is published in the August 25 edition of the journal Nature.

Dr. Blaser sounded the alarm to the medical community and to the general public, that the widespread use of antibiotics may be having unintended consequences causing permanent changes in the body's protective, friendly flora and causing harm to the body's natural defense system. This may be even more dangerous to health than the creation of resistant "," which have garnered much attention over the last few years.

By the time a child in the US or other developed countries reaches the age of 18, s/he has already had on average 10-20 doses of antibiotics. These are in addition to the antibiotics that may be given to women while they are pregnant, and which may affect the normal bacteria that mothers transmit to their children.

The discovery and use of antibiotics has helped to increase life expectancy. However they are non-discriminatory and destroy even friendly bacteria, not just harmful ones. Scientists have found that some of the may never recover and that these extinctions may lead to increased susceptibility to infections and disease. As a result, could be contributing to the increases in obesity, allergies and asthma, , and that are occurring throughout the developed world.

Dr. Blaser urges physicians to curtail the use of these drugs immediately, and recommends that narrow spectrum, and more targeted drugs be used in their place. To be successful, this shift will require a significant effort to develop new antibacterials and new diagnostic tests that will permit the use of targeted agents.

"I believe that doctors of the future will be replacing "lost" members of our normal flora in young children to diminish the risk of development of these important and chronic diseases," said Dr. Blaser.

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User comments : 6

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xznofile
not rated yet Aug 24, 2011
Good idea but it won't make money for pharma companies. seriously, which is more important?
StarGazer2011
1 / 5 (1) Aug 24, 2011
umm im looking, but I cant see any actual evidence cited?
Ricochet
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
This, just after I finished an antiobiotic series to fix a bacterial overgrowth problem... Sheesh! Can't win at anything these days!

@xznofile
That's not true... As they said, they would need to develop narrow-band drugs, which would require plenty of research, and would also fetch a pretty price while it's all still name-brand.
thewhitebear
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
We have absolutely no idea what we're meddling with and at some point we'll have to face the consequences of unbridled scientific inquiry and technological development as fueled by the capitalist regime. Continually isolating variables has led to solutions that are at best temporary and at worst destructive. Projects like the human microbiome that take a more systems view of the previously isolated variables are a good start, but we have to expand that mode of thought and recognize that all energetic relationships are ecological in character (including what we call physical phenomenon.) Relationships, not objects.
Ricochet
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
Yes, that's what superstring theory suggests, that everything is just different frequencies/forms of energy, etc. So, what you're suggesting is that we should limit scientific endeavors to figure out why everything is the way it is, and by what measure, exactly, shall we limit our efforts? It is our lack of understanding that drives us. In order to limit ourselves, we would first need to understand why, which we simply do not. We would need the answers already to know where to stop. We only know enough to say we don't know, and human history should show very well that we simply cannot stop at that answer. We're too stubborn. Sorry, we will either progress ourselves to extinction or die trying.
thewhitebear
not rated yet Aug 25, 2011
@Ricochet, sure I agree, we've created social & cultural systems that have sufficient momentum/cache to override survival decisions and push us into a limitless seeking for one very specific form of materialistic knowledge as produced by what we call science. The only way to set limits on this materialistic worldview is either through a more robust ecological view of an individual's place in the larger universal/community energy web, or through a metaphysics/spirituality that does not require evidence as a basis for decision making. The former is perhaps less prone to abuse, but the latter is more infectious. Either way requires developing our emotional/empathic capacity in concert with and equal to our rational selves.