SEP 06, 2021 8:30 AM PDT

Antibiotics Increase Colon Cancer Risk by 17%

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

People who take antibiotics are at an increased risk of developing colon cancer within five to ten years. The research was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers at Umeå University in Sweden. 

Cases of colon cancer have fallen since the mid-1980's thanks to more people getting screened and changing lifestyle-related risk factors. However, while cases have decreased among older adults, cases have been rising in younger adults since the mid-1990s. Between 2012 and 2016, the incidence of the disease increased by 2% per year among people younger than 50. 

Earlier studies have found a link between antibiotic use and colon cancer. Researchers have suspected this to happen as while antibiotics eradicate bacterial infections, they also kill off beneficial bacteria, and may allow pathogenic ones to thrive. 

In the present study, researchers compared antibiotic use between 2005 and 2016 between 40, 545 people with colon cancer and 202, 720 healthy controls. In doing so, they found that men and women who took antibiotics for over six months had a 17% greater risk of developing colon cancer in the ascending colon- the first part of the colon reached by food after the small intestine- than those not prescribed antibiotics. This increased risk was visible within five to ten years of taking antibiotics. 

The researchers note, however, that the risk did not exist for cancer in the descending colon. Meanwhile, while women taking antibiotics were slightly more likely to develop rectal cancer, the same risk was not observed in men. 

The researchers also studied the effects of a non-antibiotic bactericidal drug used against urinary infections that do not affect the microbiome. They found that this drug was not associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, suggesting to the researchers that the reason antibiotics are linked to higher rates of cancer may be due to their effects on the microbiome. 

"There is absolutely no cause for alarm simply because you have taken antibiotics. The increase in risk is moderate and the affect on the absolute risk to the individual is fairly small. Sweden is also in the process of introducing routine screening for colorectal cancer. Like any other screening programme, it is important to take part so that any cancer can be detected early or even prevented, as cancer precursors can sometimes be removed," said Sophia Harlid, one of the authors of the study.

 

Sources: Journal of the National Cancer InstituteCancer.orgJohns Hopkins MedicineScience Daily

About the Author
  • Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
AUG 05, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Brain's Version of THC Reduces Seizures, Increases Side Effects
AUG 05, 2021
Brain's Version of THC Reduces Seizures, Increases Side Effects
An endocannabinoid similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that naturally occurs in the brain reduces seizure activity. Ho ...
AUG 11, 2021
Neuroscience
Beige Fat Cells Protect the Brain from Dementia
AUG 11, 2021
Beige Fat Cells Protect the Brain from Dementia
‘Beige’ fat reduces inflammation in mouse brains, and may provide protection from dementia. The correspondin ...
AUG 24, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
A comparison of drugs for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
AUG 24, 2021
A comparison of drugs for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
     Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a rare and unpredictable autoimmune disease in which the body’s inn ...
AUG 25, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Self-Assembling Molecules: A Potential "One-Size-Fits-All" Cancer Therapy
AUG 25, 2021
Self-Assembling Molecules: A Potential "One-Size-Fits-All" Cancer Therapy
A new study from the University of Huddersfield shows promising breakthroughs on the use of self-assembling molecules as ...
SEP 12, 2021
Coronavirus
Real-World, Post-Delta COVID-19 Vaccine Data & Potential Treatment
SEP 12, 2021
Real-World, Post-Delta COVID-19 Vaccine Data & Potential Treatment
New research may have identified a potential treatment or preventive medication for SARS-CoV-2 and other viral infection ...
SEP 24, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
WHO Recommends Antibody Treatment for High Risk COVID-19 Patients
SEP 24, 2021
WHO Recommends Antibody Treatment for High Risk COVID-19 Patients
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a combination of two antibody treatments for patients at risk of adv ...
Loading Comments...