Surprise: Antibiotics May Be Contributing to the Obesity Epidemic

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obesity antibioticWorse, their overuse may also increase our cancer risk.

We’ve been telling you about the global threat of superbugs. Much of it comes from handing out antibiotics like medicinal candy to humans or as dietary supplements to animals. Now there’s new evidence of the negative effect of antibiotics on our weight as well as a potentially devastating effect on our children’s (and children’s children’s) health.

Microbiologists at New York University have published a new study that says the overprescribing of antibiotics could be making us fat! Researchers fed infant mice low doses of penicillin; after 30 weeks, penicillin-fed mice were between 10 and 15 per cent bigger and twice as fat as drug-free mice.

This affirms research from Copenhagen which found that infants given antibiotics within the first six months of life were more likely to be overweight at age 7, even if their mother was of a healthy weight.

In the NYU study, when mice were given short courses of higher dose antibiotics—the kind that young children tend to receive for infections—their immune systems became compromised, producing significantly lower numbers of helper T-cells.

The study also showed that low doses of antibiotics shifted the balance of certain gut microbes, reducing the numbers of Lactobacillus, a “good” bacterium linked to a lower risk of cancer recurrence. A healthy gut that contains a great variety of good bacteria is our best protection against cancer; after all, our intestines are a powerhouse of our body’s immune system.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma have been studying fossilized feces. This may sound odd but there is a lot to be learned. Among other things they found that ancient feces have more bacterial DNA in common with those of non-human primates and children living in rural Africa than they do with modern, Western gut microbiomes (a word that describes microbes, their genetic elements, and their interactions in a particular environment).

It’s not that the new gut microbiome is better—just the opposite, in fact. Changing the composition of the bacterial colonies lining our intestines has been linked to irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, and many other problems.

Carl Lewis, the lead author of the U of O study, said, “My first hypothesis would be that chlorinated water and antibiotics have fundamentally changed human microbiomes….The association between antibiotics and obesity is important to explore.”

Lewis didn’t make this connection, but if chlorinated water is harming our gut, what about fluoride, a known neurotoxin? As we reported last month, fluoride in our water supply increases the accumulation of lead in bone, teeth, and other calcium-rich tissues, transporting heavy metals into areas of your body they normally would not be able to go—like your brain. Might it not also affect the gut microbiome?

There is an underlying irony to the new questions surrounding antibiotics and other quick fixes to infectious diseases. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, medicine was not a high-prestige profession. It is antibiotics in particular that changed all that. Suddenly, with the emergence of these “wonder drugs,” doctors and conventional medicine were put on a pedestal by most people.

This is still observable among some older people, who express the attitudes they grew up with. But today, with resistant pathogens exploding, the pandemic danger increasing, and the unintended consequences of “wonder drugs” becoming clearer, more and more people are looking for a greater degree of humility and openness to new ideas from the conventional medical community.

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  • Suzanne

    Duh!!! Vaccines too and now autism rates have gone up and nobody in gov’t wants to admit it or call it a horrendous situation.

  • Linda N

    Why should it surprise us that taking antibiotics makes us fatter? Antibiotics are often given to animals to “fatten them up” before slaughter! I think I and others in the natural health community have know this about antibiotics for a long time. Also this is not the first study to show a connection between antibiotic use and an increased risk for cancer. I am glad that there has been yet another study showing these links however. Except most doctors are not going to act on this knowledge and reduce their use of antibiotics to when only clearly necessary. They are too afraid of a malpractice suit. This is the way the system works. It is up to us to ask if an antibiotic is truly warranted at any given time.

    • Antibiotics aren’t given to cattle to fatten them…their GMO grain diet works just fine for that. Antibiotics are prescribed to make up for the unclean living conditions and unnatural diet that force the animals into a state of constant sickness.

      • Not true! the antibiotics are administered at sub clinical dosages. Like in municipal water supplies.

  • I reported on this issue about 20 years ago and it continues to get worse because some antibiotics now have aspartame added.

  • RM

    What do you do if you have to give your child long term antibiotics due to autoimmune disease like PANDAS or Lyme disease? I still give him probiotics daily and he is on a special diet. He can’t have any commercial yogurts due to the strep strain in there (has an autoimmune condition associated with strep). We have tried supplements supposed to help his immune system and they just increased the autoimmune attack. You can’t safely stimulate a faulty or overactive immune system without it being a danger. Most naturopaths don’t understand this, and most people don’t know this.
    Is he doomed to be fat now because I have to treat his disease?

  • George

    “In the 19th and early 20th centuries, medicine was not a high-prestige profession. It is antibiotics in particular that changed all that. Suddenly, with the emergence of these “wonder drugs,” doctors and conventional medicine were put on a pedestal by most people.”

    But, sad to say, doctors are failing miserably in their role as gatekeepers with regard to access to powerful antibiotics.

    Apart from frank ignorance on the part of many doctorsk, another reason for the overprescribing of is that it takes time to explain to patients why an antibiotic is not indicated for their particular complaint. Writing out a prescripion may take less time, so that’s what the patient may get.

  • Rashid Patch

    Re: changes in gut bacteria – the link to chlorinated water may explain why many of these problems appear and rapidly increase as populations adopt Western lifestyles. The adoption of processed foods has been blamed, but the drastic alteration of intestinal flora caused by drinking chlorinated water has never been examined.

  • This is quite a leap. Antibiotics have their place but NOT as an animal feed component. Overuse promotes antibiotic resistant superbugs. Let’s get Americans up off their duff and away from the video games long enough to get some exercise. Also eliminate High Fructose corn sweetener from all foods. Teach basic nutrition to people of all ages in school, or wherever possible. As for Chlorine in chlorinated tap water that is not a threat to microflora and microfauna in the human gut. The amount of free chlorine introduced by tap water is miniscule and there is more than enough material in the gut to react with it and neutralize it. Just remember that our bodies produce HCl as our stomach acid. Far more chlorine atoms found in our stomach acid than in the glass of tap water we may drink.

    • Wayne

      Don’t confuse the chlorine molecule with the chloride ion. We have a lot of chloride in us and need it. We have no use for the uncharged chlorine but it will react with (oxidize) stomach content producing undesirable compounds.

  • Eliza

    Omitted is mention of the huge quantities of antibiotics routinely administered to poultry, pigs and cattle against the rampant infections due to deplorable caging conditions. Which contaminated flesh ultimately lands on our plates and in our bodies.

  • I was given a shot of penicilin back in 1983 when all over my file was stamped pencilin allergic. I subsequemtly gained 90 pounds in 20 months and still have not been able to loose this weight, is thrre any way you can help me? Do others have this same problem? Let me know.

    • Tami

      I feel for you. I had strep and took a round of antibitoics at 46 and have fought yeast infections for two years until I found probiotic foods. Have you seen the new documentary – Hungry for Change? Watch it!!!! Go to http://www.foodmatters.com

      If I were you I would start consuming probiotic foods (kefir, quality yogurt, lacto-fermented foods, kombucha, etc…..) on a daily basis. Learn how to make them yourself. They are very inexpensive to make.

      http://www.culturedfoodlife.com
      http://www.picklemetoo.com/
      http://www.kombuchakamp.com/
      http://www.wildfermentation.com/

      Read about natural health on http://www.mercola.com and on this Web site too of course!!
      Good Luck! – You CAN do it! Take charge!!!

    • Mrs. V

      The best I can do is relate my experiece to you and tell you what has worked for me. The first thing you should do though is get your endocrine system *thoroughly* checked out. Have labs drawn to check all glandular functions- and I do mean *all*. Endocrinologists are *supposed to be* more informed about such illnesses than general practitioners, so are usually better at diagnosing related ailments. After getting a proper diagnosis you can explore your treatment options.

      If you’re exercising, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol/tobacco and avoiding junk but still not losing weight, do not let a doc tell you nothing’s wrong and insist that it’s all your fault for “irresponsible eating” or “laziness” – Get a new doc! Not all doctors are competent, humane or have any business at all working with the public and no person should tolerate being degraded by such beasts.

      I was born in the 70s. When I was an infant they started pumping me full of antibiotics at the first sniffle or first sign of ear infection, and found out along the way that I too am allergic to Penicillin. Of course, this continued and by age 2 I was suffering chronic tonsilitis- probably due to antibiotics if the truth were known, and continued to receive MORE antibiotics. This went on for a year until docs performed tonsilectomy on me at age 3- follwed by kidney infection which = MORE antibiotics. By age 6 I was overweight and I continued to balloon until I resorted to starvation at age 12- which I do *not* recommend. I continued to receive antibiotics over the years for various illnesses- and gained all the weight back + some, despite having what most doctors call a reasonably healthy diet and very active lifestyle.

      After I starting educating myself about health and alternative medicine, I eventually found my way to a naturopath and came to know that my entire endocrine system is screwed up *and* I have wheat allergy! Eventually, after making many changes, the fat slowly started to come off. I’m still technically “fat” but I’m in size 14 jeans, whereas I used to be in size 20 jeans. One thing I did that reduced what I like to call my “fat anxiety” was stop weighing. Everyone’s body is unique. Some of us have larger frames, greater bone density or muscle mass than others, so two people can both be a perfect size 8, but have significantly different body weight. To monitor my fat loss, I use a measuring tape and pay attention to how my clothes are fitting-…

    • VirginiaB

      Research Candida overgrowth. Read The Yeast Connection (1985) by Wm Crook (an unfortunate name, but not apropos).

      This is an old text and does not include the herbs and natural medicines that also combat yeast (garlic oil, pau d’arco, probiotics, fibers that feed the probiotics like acacia, wormwood and black walnut, olive leaf extract, grapefruit seed extract, enzymes on an empty stomach, oregano oil) BUT it’s still the authority and written by an MD which is a rare find.

      It will take time, expect about two weeks (or less) of die-off where you feel worse, like you have the flu (the empty stomach enzyme help a lot with this)… But you will feel increasingly better, probably better than you have in years.

      Best of luck!

  • Lou

    “Lewis didn’t make this connection, but if chlorinated water is harming our gut, what about fluoride, a known neurotoxin?”

    Chlorinated tap water can be stored in a large mouth container for 24 hours and the chlorine gas dissolved in the water will degas.

    Florine in tap water is harder to deal with but deal with it we MUST. Berkey makes a water filter that they claim takes out 99.99% of the fluoride and arsenic. Arsenic is only slightly more toxic than fluoride and it IS added with the fluoride as is cadmium and other heavy metals.

    http://www.nofluoride.com/presentations/Fluoride%20Lead%20Arsenic%20Comparison.pdf

    • Jean

      I keep goldfish in a pond outside and I have to treat the water for chloromines which do not gas off on their own. I do not know what it does to the human body but if I do not treat the water it kills the fish.

      • VirginiaB

        This is an important point. Here in Charlottesville, VA our water supply comes from an open reservoir and tastes ‘earthy’. For the record my family doesn’t drink it, however even if the chlorine is removed, there are the chloro- compounds created by chlorine ions reacting with organic matter in the water; they are much worse than the actual chlorine, and no, do not evaporate.

        I wish there was more discussion about Candida and yeast overgrowth, causing sugar and carbohydrate cravings, resulting in chronic disease and obesity. I know that this has been my ‘key’ issue and everything else fell into place and started working properly once the yeast, and the diet that had fueled it, had been dealt with.

  • M. Mayer

    This has actually been known for a long time. All the Antibiotics that are in Vaccines – plus all the Toxic Material in them……practically DESTROY the Digestive system.. early on….including the Left Lobe of the Liver and Pancreas Tail that balances Blood Sugar. Not to mention the Pancreas Head that Produces Enzymes to DIGEST FOOD!!! Between the Antibiotics, Vaccines and excessesive SUGARS kids are fed – it’s a no Brainer. But as long as the General Public is UNEDUCATED on HOW THE BODY WORKS………it’s just not going to change (:

    • Dennis

      OK, so we have to keep telling people, what we know to be true, online and in real life. Whether it’s speaking of the total lack of need for antibiotics & vaccines or that ALL disease is curable from colds to cancer.

      The important thing is to not be too attached in trying to convince people. Just speak the truth….and let it go. It may take someone, hearing the truth of vaccines, 10 times before they actually “listen”.

  • Lea

    I will be discontinuing my receiving these emails due to the content of information based on animal testing and other information not supporting my lifestyle of cruelty-free living.

    • Charley

      Kill the messenger, Lea

    • Stu

      So it’s OK to feed antibiotics and flouride and other poisons to adult and minor children, but not to mice?

      • Seriously, you’re complaining that the ANH is simply reporting on a scientific study that happened to perform animal testing??? The ANH didn’t conduct the study, they’re just reporting the results. You really need to get over yourself – don’t cut off your nose to spite your own face.

      • blaize

        Adults (& older children) can speak for themselves. Animals cant.

    • Lsenchuk

      I am confused. Would people prefer infants, children and the elderly to continue being the “mice” that prove that the flagrant miss-use of antibiotics need addressing?
      I don’t agree with animal testing on dogs, cats and primates for make-up and frivolous chemical testing but we are talking mice here. A rodent, vermin, pests, the average life-span of a mouse is between 1.5 to 2 years. They are able to bred at 50 days old, they bred year round with the average litter being between 10-12 they are weaned in just 3 short weeks and the female will usually get pregnant again within 3 days of weaning. This cycle of constant reproducing continues throughout their lifespan. Keeping in mind that all these litters are ready to breed themselves in less than 2 months. Do the math. We as humans must be humane and be on constant watch that we don’t abuse our planet or the creatures on it. However there is a middle ground without extreme PC and at the expense of human lives.

      • lover

        All life should be respected. They just discovered mice enjoy being tickled and give out little previously unknown noises that turned out to be them laughing. They live in families and can be trained to do very advanced types of behaviors. I am not against the tests, we just need to be aware that all life matters and should be given respect. Nothing is just disposable.

  • iRMA

    I am 58 and my generation, antibiotics were given more liberally, but not as liberally as they were prescribed when my daughter was a baby. My mother told me that I was a “normal” child until I had my tonsils and adenoids out when I was about 4 years old. I must have been given alot of antibiotics as a child because I blew up, but ate the same as my siblings. I was accused of sneaking food, which I didn’t! I gained and gained, and lost and lost, and gained again! After my daughter was born, I had tremendous digestive problems. I read up on health issues and possible causes, and would bring up candida albicans to doctors, but they all looked at me like I was nuts! I continued to suffer and my symptoms got worse and worse. I’ve been diagnosed with IBS, asthma, acid reflux, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia (although my doctor really didn’t believe in fibromyalgia), and all they wanted to do was give me prescriptions, but would NEVER address the underlying problem. My fibromyalgia symptoms were getting so bad, that I thought I could no longer live with it. I finally requested to be tested for celiac, but 2 doctors refused to test me for it. I decided to cut out about 80% of gluten, and many of my symptoms subsided substantially. I can attest from personal experience that an imbalance in the intestines can truly create havoc to a person’s system, and in order to correct and heal the whole body, we have to stop with the drugs and focus on the intestines first! As far as I am concerned, it is all about population control. People are living longer, but still retiring around age 65. Social Security was designed to financially assist a person who worked for many years, and help out the last 5-10 years of their remaining life. With people now living well into their 80’s and 90’s, Social Security certainly cannot afford to financially support a person for 25-30 years. By prescribing 8-15 medications per person, pharmaceutical companies prosper, people work, and seniors DIE! If you notice anyone who is prescribed more than 2-3 medications, their health drastically declines and they die within 2-4 years. We need to focus on saying “NO” to prescriptions and start focusing on homeopathic methods, with the main focus on healing the intestines first. The rest will follow. Oh, by the way, by cutting out gluten in my diet, I stopped my asthma medications, my fibromyalgia is 80% gone, my chronic fatigue has dramatically improved, my energy level…

  • Stephanie Remington

    It makes sense. Antibiotics are given to healthy livestock to get them fat quickly before slaughter. Why wouldn’t their overuse have the same effect on humans?

  • About autism, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet of Florida tested several hundred of his autism spectrum patients and found that 80 percent of them had elevated levels of Nagalase. Nagalase prevents formation of GcMAF in the body, so fetuses and most cancers and some viruses all emit Nagalase to protect themselves from activated macrophages, the big eater white blood cells that consume or kill bacteria, virus infected cells, and cells that don’t match the chromosomes of the body such as cancer or fetal cells.

    Given several months of weekly doses of GcMAF, the macrophage activating factor, so potent that only a tenth of a microgram is used, some (how many is still not specified) of his patients showed sudden and remarkable progress toward normal behavior. To read more abut GcMAF, find Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto’s papers with Google Scholar and check out http://GcMAF.eu at your leisure.

    These topics are so complex and interconnected that we really need something more like Compendium to collect knowledge and validation over extended time intervals. See “Dialogue Mapping” or other argumentation systems for more information about those knowledge accumulating systems. Even something like Wikipedia might be helpful, but this information is too unclear and too unsupported by large carefully run and documented clinical trials to be allowed in Wikipedia itself.

  • In 1969, Dr. John Olney published the first of a series of studies demonstrating that monosodium glutamate given to very young laboratory animals produces obesity later in life. Why isn’t the role of the neurotoxic free glutamic acid found in monosodium glutamate, hydrolyzed protein products, autolyzed yeast, and the other products that contain this endocrine disrupting amino acid discussed in publications like yours?

  • Judith H – TN

    This absolutely MAKE SO MUCH SENSE and as per usual with all genius was directly in front of everyone all along.. Just needed someone to connect the dots. This research is a definite game change. Thank YOU ANH-USA for your WONDERFUL WORK in sharing the best of best research!

  • Antibiotics kill they healthy organisms in your GI. These healthy organism or probiotics are critical in immunity and digestion. If you are not digesting, you are rotting the food and opening yourself up for all sorts of health issues, some of which are listed in this article. In my practice, I always recommend a broad spectrum clinical grade Advanced ProBiotic Formula to minimize the side-effects and negative effects of antibiotics during and for at least 1-2 weeks after.

  • As a part time farmer, I and most other farmers have known for years that a low fat diet is needed to fatten animals for slaughter. I have also known for a long time that antibiotics given at low levels increase weight gain. I just wonder why no one has yet actually applied that knowledge to humans.

    I am pleased to see some are now beginning to see the light. When you add the addictive nature of high fructose corn syrup and the focused advertising encouraging parents to purchase sugar and starch laden products for their children, it has never been a mystery to me why people are getting fatter and fatter.

    Hopefully others will get the message and take action, first by not purchasing the junk, second get off the low-fat kick, stop the antibiotics unless actually needed and when they are needed ask for a shot instead of the pills. It gets out of your system quicker so you can start rebuilding. Finally eat locally grown fruits and vegetables in season, range fed meat, and eggs.

    No a meal at McDonald will not hurt occasionally if you still want one after 3 months on a good diet (I dont). The problem is day to day food intake.

    No it is not expensive in dollars, but it will take more time as you will likely to be cooking more and eating less (Without dieting). Why not try a cooking club where one family prepares food for several other families, they all eat together and take turns with the cooking. It used to work when we lived much farther apart than we do now.

    In the words of my favorite Vulcan: “May you live long and prosper”