Results of a new study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer 2021, indicated that people, especially those under the age of 50 years, may be at an increased risk of colon cancer due to the use of antibiotics.
The study gathered data from patients in Scotland and analysed cases of early-onset and later onset colorectal cancer. They compared a total of 7,903 individuals with colorectal cancer with 30,418 individuals in the control groups.
According to the study results the researchers shared, people with later onset colorectal cancer had an associated risk of 9%. The association was much higher in those with early-onset colorectal cancer, with an almost 50% increased risk.
The researchers pointed out how antibiotics are extremely helpful in the treatment of infection but that several health problems could result from antibiotic use and overuse. The new data reinforce the need to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics, which can put individuals at further risk of health problems.
While admitting that more research is necessary for this area, and the cause cannot be proven based on the nature of the study, the authors concluded: “Our findings suggest antibiotics may have a role in colon tumour formation across all age groups, particularly in those aged less than 50 years. It is possible that exposure to antibiotics could be contributing to the observed increases in [early onset colorectal cancer], particularly in the proximal colon.”
The unnecessary use of antibiotics is a growing concern internationally. In the United States, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has been advocating for the careful use of antibiotics to avoid adverse effects. Moreover, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has also noted that antibiotics can kill off the helpful bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.