During a 2014 study, researchers found that taking certain antibiotics can lead to an 8-11% increase in the chances of developing colorectal cancer, also known as colon or bowel cancer. Furthermore, a study published in the Gut journal assessed data from over 16,600 women ages 60+. Researchers noted women who had taken antibiotics for two or more months were at a higher risk of developing colon polyps. Colon polyps form on the colon lining, while some are benign others can be cancerous.

But why would taking antibiotics for a relatively short period of time make you more prone to colon cancer? Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria. They don’t know how to discriminate between good and bad bacteria, so they essentially wipe out everything. As a result, this causes alternations to your gut microbiome.

More specifically, the study found that women who used antibiotics for 2 +months in their 20s and 30s were 36% more likely to develop colon polyps compared to women who did not. Women who used antibiotics for 3+ months in their 40s and 50s were 70% more likely to develop polyps.

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The study’s lead researcher Dr. Andrew Chan, an associate profession of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, “This suggests that alterations in the naturally occurring bacteria that live in one’s intestines caused by antibiotics might predispose individuals to colorectal cancer … More research needs to be done to understand the interaction between alterations in one’s gut bacteria and future risk of colorectal cancer.”

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You might not be able to avoid antibiotics, but you can help improve your colon health by eating these foods:

-Dried plums

-Sauerkraut

-Garlic

-Green beans

-Kimchi

-Chickpea

-Tempeh

-Miso

-Beets

-Lentils

Sources: Live Science, PubMed, DavidWolfe

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