Antibiotics are becoming popular prescriptions – sometimes in cases where an illness is not even present. An NY Times article recently featured research by Dr. Martin Blaser, an NYU medical school professor, on the additional effects of antibiotics. His research links increased use of antibiotics to obesity. Our guts are filled with bacteria, and antibiotics change the bacterial composition in our stomachs. Common stomach bacteria, H. pylori, is a popular target of antibiotics. After this specific bacteria is eliminated, our stomachs behave differently, especially in regards to communicating hunger.
After a meal, levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone secreted in the stomach, are supposed to fall. But in subjects without H. pylori, the amount of ghrelin in the bloodstream held steady, in essence telling the brain to keep eating.
Moreover, mice in Dr. Blaser’s lab fed antibiotics in dosages similar to those given to children to treat ear and throat infections — which is enough to kill H. pylori in many patients — had marked increases in body fat even though their diets remained the same. (Indeed, farmers have long given antibiotics to livestock to promote weight gain without increasing caloric intake.)
Antibiotic overuse may be the root of other health problems, too. An epidemiologist…has found an inverse correlation between H. pylori infection [common bacteria in the gut] and childhood-onset asthma, hay fever and skin allergies…
The study specifically showed that an overuse of antibiotics has some pretty adverse effects on the body.