In the zeal to eliminate dangerous bacteria, it is possible that we are also permanently killing off beneficial bacteria as well. We're all worried about superbugs caused by the antibiotics in meat, and we're taking more antibiotics than ever. By the time a child in the US or other developed countries reaches the age of 18, he or she has already had 10 to 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.
We're also washing our hands more than ever, which is good, but not all bacteria is bad, and if we're using too much antibacterial soap, we may be killing off the GOOD bacteria as well.
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 "superbugs," which have gotten much attention over the last few years.
Scientists have found that some of the beneficial bacteria may never recover and that these extinctions may lead to increased susceptibility to infections and disease. As a result, antibiotic use could be contributing to the increases in obesity, allergies and asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes that are occurring throughout the developed world. In other words, overuse of antibiotics is making us SICK.
Microbiologist Martin Blaser says, "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."
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