Thursday, August 25, 2011

More Red Flags About Antibiotics

In a new article in the journal Nature, Dr. Martin Blaser is warning about the long-term effects of antibiotic exposure:

Overuse Of Antibiotics May Cause Long-Term Harm, ABC News, 25 August 2011
We've seen evidence that suggests antibiotics may permanently change the beneficial bacteria that we're carrying.
Blaser hypothesized that the overuse of antibiotics may even be fueling the "dramatic increase" in many illnesses, including type 1 diabetes, allergies and inflammatory bowel disease by destroying the body's friendly flora, or protective bacteria.
"These drugs affect what we're colonized with, particularly the digestive tract," said [Dr. Cesar Arias, assistant professor of infectious disease at University of Texas Medical School]. "If you alter your flora, you can promote certain superbugs to colonize in your gut and get into the bloodstream."
Here's an unusual prediction:
Blaser said he speculates and fears that humans have already lost some "ancestral organisms" that help protect us.
"I think we'll soon be inoculating babies with these lost bacteria."

Antibiotics Deplete Nutrients

This site offers a checklist of nutrients that may be depleted in the presence of antibiotics. Those nutrients include vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, biotin, vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, and others.

Antibiotic Residue In Food

Even if you don't take antibiotics straight up in a pill, you may be getting them from food. Unfortunately, health effects of chronic, low-level ingestion of antibiotics haven't been adequately studied.

Dan Flynn at Food Safety News has been keeping track of instances where drug residues, mostly antibiotics, in livestock were found to violate max allowable limits.

I was reading through his articles and was surprised at how common this problem was. The FDA and USDA/FSIS appear under-resourced for the task of weeding out violators. (Their resources may be reduced further in the upcoming budget cuts.)

Here's a sampling of his stories from just the past few months:
  • Test Finds Too Much Juice in CA Dairy Cow
  • Iowa Cattle Dealers Get Drug Residue Warnings
  • Drug Residues Too High at Two Dairies
  • Drug Residues Found in New Mexico Dairy Cows
  • Animal Drug Misuse Found at Two Dairies
  • Drug Residue Tests Trip Up Four Dairies
  • State Investigation Brings FDA Warning for Dairy
  • Controversy Looms Over Dairy Farm Drug Tests
  • High Animal Drug Residues Found in Veal Calves
  • Drug, Chemical Residues Get More FSIS Attention
  • Washington Dairy Had Drug Residues Under Control?

How much illegal drug is getting through to the meat and dairy food we eat? Since manure and animal waste are used as soil conditioners, are plants another source for these drugs?

I've been wondering about these low-level drug residues. We can't inject a substance into the food chain and expect the food we eat to be devoid of it, can we? What happens when drugs seep into soil and water? Are they taken up by plants and animals? What is our total exposure from all sources?


Perovskia said...

... and we wonder why people choose to eat organic.

I also wondered if using Polysporin (I believe it's Neosporin there) affects us in any way. It's an antibiotic cream; is it the same? Easy enough right? Have an open wound, throw it on to 'clean' it up and help heal it, but.. does long-term use have any effects?

Perovskia said...

* Sorry, I mean we question if eating organic is healthier. In ways, no, but what we're NOT ingesting in our bodies, I think, outweighs a ton.

RB said...

Things won't change as long as multinational corporations control our government. Some major catastrophe is required to reduce prophylactic antibiotic use in farm animals to change things and even then it won't be easy.