What Are The Common Myths About Antibiotics?
Myth 1: Antibiotics are responsible for the decline in infectious disease. The truth is that antibiotics are helpful for many infections. However, antibiotics have not resulted in the elimination of infectious diseases by themselves. In fact, we now have antibiotic-resistant diseases that are much more difficult to treat as a direct result of the use of antibiotics such as certain strains of gonorrhea and tuberculosis, as well as many others that are less well known such as MRSA, a resistant strain of staphylococcus. According to experts, measles, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, pneumonia, influenza, whooping cough, diphtheria and polio were all in decline several decades before antibiotics or vaccines. (Beyond Antibiotics by Michael A. Schmidt Ph.D)
Myth 2: Antibiotics are useful against colds and flu. In truth, antibiotics are only helpful for bacterial infections. However, many physicians continue to prescribe them for viral conditions such as colds and flu. The rationale is to prevent secondary bacterial infection. This would be fine, except for myth #3 below, the dangers of antibiotics. Given the dangers of antibiotics, it is prudent in most cases not to take antibiotics for colds and flues. They can worsen the situation and prolong recovery.
Myth 3: Antibiotics are harmless. This is the most insidious myth. It leads to over prescribing and blinds physicians and the public to the dangers of antibiotics. Meanwhile, safer methods of avoiding and treating infections are ignored on the premise that the antibiotics will take care of everything. The list of problems with antibiotics is quite long. Some are common and well known:
1. Antibiotics can trigger serious allergic reactions.
2. Antibiotics destroy beneficial gut bacteria disrupting proper digestion as well as damaging your immune system.
3. Antibiotics contribute to fungal overgrowth of the digestive system due to intestinal dysbiosis.
4. Antibiotics contribute to cancer. One study revealed that those who took 2-5 antibiotic prescriptions over an 8 year period had a 27% increase in cancers over those who took none. Those who completed 6 or more prescriptions had a 37% increase in cancers over those who took none.
(Intl Journal Cancer 08;123:2152-2155)