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Long-term antibiotics increase women’s risk of death from all causes by 27%


Antibiotics. PHOTO CREDIT:<br />

Antibiotics increase women’s risk of an early death from heart disease by inflicting irreparable damage on their gut lining, new research warns.

Those who are prescribed a dose that spans two months or more are 58 percent more likely to succumb to terminal heart issues, the study found.

In fact, their risk of premature death from all causes bumps up 27 percent.


The findings come a month after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned people against a particularly common antibiotic sold under the brand name Biaxin – which is used to treat many skin, ear, sinus and lung infections – for its link to potentially fatal heart issues.

The study is one of the first to quantify how much antibiotics affect the gut lining and heart health.

While previous studies have found antibiotic use is associated with long-lasting changes to gut microbiota, no study had examined how significant this damage would be for relatively healthy people.

“Gut microbiota alterations have been associated with a variety of life-threatening disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer,” said lead author Dr. Lu Qi, professor of epidemiology at Tulane University.

Antibiotic exposure affects balance and composition of the gut microbiome, even after one stops taking antibiotics.

“So, it is important to better understand how taking antibiotics might impact risks for chronic diseases and death.”

In a collaborative study with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Qi led a team studying 37,510 women over the age of 60 who did not have heart disease or cancer at the start of the program, which spanned from 2004 until summer 2012.

Assessing each woman’s antibiotic use, they put them into four groups – not at all; fewer than 15 days; between 15 days and two months; or two or more months.

By the end, they found a clear correlation between antibiotic use and premature death risk, particularly if the course was longer.

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