By Laura Shin
Posting in Cancer
Just as animals fed a steady stream of antibiotics gain weight, two studies show a connection between exposure to antibiotics and an increase in body mass.
Yikes. The very medicines we turn to for a cure may be causing us harm.
Two new studies show that antibiotics could be harming the bacteria in our guts, causing us to pack on the pounds. And the hypothesis isn't so far-fetched, considering that the cattle and pigs we raise as meat are fed a steady stream of antibiotics that have been shown to help them gain weight.
In the first study, which was conducted in mice, exposure to antibiotics disrupted the mice's internal microbe communities, resulting in changes in the way the mice's bodies could process food and regulate metabolism.
The other study showed that the more exposure children had to antibiotics as infants, the higher their body weights.
“Early life antibiotics are changing the microbiome, and its metabolic capabilities, at a critical time in development,” microbiologist Martin Blaser of New York University, an author of both of the studies, told Wired. “These changes have downstream effects on metabolism, including genes related to energy storage.”
Blaser is a pioneer in researching the microbiome, the community of bacteria, viruses, fungi, amoebae and yeasts that live and die in and on our bodies, helping out with functions like breaking down food. They are a huge part of the human ecosystem, because the number of microbes on our bodies (about 100 trillion) can outnumber the cells that make us human by ten to one.
The changes in the microbiome have been linked to a number of diseases including cancer, autism and heart disease. Plus, obesity. Blaser wondered if this link had anything to do with the fact that animals in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, pictured above) are fed a steady stream of antibiotics and that they grow larger and faster than normal.
Though the mice didn't gain weight, their body fat increased 15%, no matter what type of antibiotic he fed them. Also, their microbiomes were quite different from mice not fed the antibiotics. Even more surprising is that the mice showed a change in their genes, particularly the genes involved in breaking down carbohydrates and regulating cholesterol. The results were published in an Aug. 22 Nature paper.
While mice bodies are admittedly different from human bodies, Blaser also has a study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, of the effect of antibiotics in 11,000 British children.
That study showed that children who were exposed to antibiotics before the age of six months had higher body mass years later.
The two studies don't necessarily prove that the effect seen in mice and the effect seen in humans are the same, given that the human exposure was a one-time exposure, rather than a steady low dose as in the experiment with mice.
Blaser will next look at how a single dose of antibiotics early in life affects the body weights of mice. He's also going to study the effects in human bodies of the kind of low doses of antibiotics we take in from eating meat and dairy from animals fed antibiotics.
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photos: Top: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) (EPA via Wikipedia); Bottom: Two mice, top one not fed antibiotics has less fat (shown in yellow); mouse at bottom, fed a regular dosage of antibiotics, a has thicker layer of fat. (Cho, et al., Nature)
Aug 26, 2012
I don't know how blame could be placed on antibiotics as the "cause" for obesity in this continent (NAm). Looking for example at China, where antibiotics are given out or virtually every illness, everything from sniffles to the flu (I've spent a lot of time there, speak the language, have much experience with both in-country and ex-pat communities); if they were the key factor in obesity, than it would be at least as huge (no pun intended) an issue there as it is here. The main reason to cut back on over prescription of antibiotics is not weight gain, it's that we are creating super-bugs resistant to any medicine. I think China poses the biggest threat for this with its current medical system and the shear numbers of crowded cities.
Sorry, but the meat you buy in stores is free from antibiotics. While farm animals are fed antibiotics for various reasons, by law the antibiotics must be withdrawn several weeks before the animals are slaughtered. Random samples are taken at the packing plant, and if a farmer's animals have any detectable antibiotic residue in them, then that load gets condemned. In addition the farmer may prohibited from selling more animals for several weeks on the assumption it will take that long to clear any antibiotics out of their systems. Farm animals have a very tight weight "window" they must meet to get top dollar. If a farmer can't sell his animals when they are in that window, their value goes down drastically, so this is a major penalty. How do I know this? Growing up my family had a hog farm, and this was always a big issue. We had separate antibiotic-free grain that we fed to hogs that were a few weeks away from market. We never let them get into any pens where grain with antibiotics was fed. A single accidental shovel of grain with antibiotics was enough to trigger sanctions against us. Note that this issue is separate from the much larger controversy over whether antibiotics fed on the farm create superbugs that then spread to humans. If superbugs are created, it happens while the animals are being raised and fed antibiotics.
As a 63 year old male, vegan for 22 years, at 132 pounds, the same weight as in college 43 years ago, I found a solution that works well for me. I avoid the antibiotics and hormones fed to animals. Interesting science. Wonder if other people will take note of the possible impact on their health of consuming animals for nutrition.
I have wondered this first hand since I was about 15 years old. Because I had to deal with being overweight for about 10 years of my childhood, all because I was on a seizure medication that had the little side-effect of weight-gain (75 pounds of weight gain). And since they basically try to solve everything they can with a drug pill now, I have asked the same question about the obesity epidemic myself, again and again. If not, there has to be at least a big percentage of the obesity being caused by medication.
after reading _Wheat Belly_ and cutting out wheat and most grains and replacing them with meat and vegetables. I have about 30 more to go. But it's going much easier than I expected.
Regarding hormones - yes, hormones like estrogen tend to increase your weight when they are out of balance - and in both males and females. Fat men look feminine for a reason. Besides being more rounded with higher body fat typical of women - obese men have significantly higher estrogen levels - promoting even easier weight gain. Unfortunately, fatty tissues produce estrogen and once you become over weight you are supplying your own weight gaining hormones. The initial unhealthy weight gain comes from a diet too high in simple carbohydrates - not hormones. Simple carbohydrates have a proven roll in both obesity and diabetes. While I'm not a fan of dieting in general - The South Beach Diet written by a (cardiologist) which focuses on the replacement of simple carbohydrates (sugars, potatoes, white bread, polished rice - processed grains) with complex carbs (vegetables and complex starches - leafy greens, beans, natural fruits, nuts, etc. - works wonders for weight loss and to fight diabetes. It isn't perfect, but it's the best I have seen considering both health and performance regarding weight loss. Compared to most diets, it's more nutritionally balanced and allows you a broader range and quantities of healthier foods. You can get the SB Diet Books from your local library and follow their program and recipes and if you follow the basic program - you will lose weight in healthy way. You will also improve the health of your cardiovascular system, pancreas, reproductive system - prostate by generally reducing inflammation.
While one might theorize that a specific antibiotics, or even a family of antibiotics might impact digestive metabolism - and some we already know do at least in the short term, but broad statements that envelope all antibiotics and affects over a long periods, or life times are not only without well defined explanatory mechanisms, but are a huge red flag for basic scientific incompetence.
No, no, no !!!! The obesity epidemic is fundamentally down to over-consumption, and under-excercise... ...in combination with a huge increase in the use of High Fructose corn-syrup, endemic 'go large' meals, much wider availability of snacking, industrialization of food production, an industry obsessed by the saleable fad of low-fat to the detriment of over-all calorie intake etc... and a sedantry lifestyle. Anything else is window dressing. Which has more sugar ? 250ml Smoothie 330Ml can full sugar soda ? The smoothie, with about 8 teaspoons worth of sugar. Though if you had a water or no-added sugar or no-sugar drink, it would be next to zero.
I have long believed that growth hormones used in mainstream food supply by producers cause humans to become fatter too. Such compounds are not all metabolized out of the body before we eat them - some have residual effects lasting months. FDA has not required tests running months; cost is prohibitive & FDA is chummy with the chemical industry & always has been. When I eat wild meat almost exclusively I lose fat; when I eat supermarket meat I gain fat - that's all the proof I need. We Ndns are not vegetarians ordinarily but when I can't get wild meat I tend to vegetarianism because xs fat is not good for me & if I don't take good care of me, no one else will. Come t think of it, that means the food production industry. And we all know they don't unless coerced to, on the basis of 'cost'. To them. to heck with us. We're their market; not their neighbors.
I'd like to see a dual-study based on lack of exercise and food based hormones. And I would like to see how long it takes one's self to become obese, hence children vs. adults. I know it's not a fair comparison via the adult's self-hormones changing, but nonetheless I would still like to see such a study. I would have to say that the hormones in food today -- primarily beef products -- are shooting our kids up to be way over 6-feet tall, and muscles way beyond comparison to the old days when foods were more pure. It would depend on your genetics to begin with, hence if you have heavy parents then you could forget about the height and muscle and focus more about becoming a 200 pound kid I suppose? Either way, I never gave antibiotics much credence.
If you follow the evolutionary path of human kind over the last few hundred thousand years, man evolved from a vegan diet to a mixed diet, with a large part consisting of animal protein. Nothing wrong with vegan or mixed diet, as long as in moderation, and accompanied by an appropriate amount of physical activity - whether running away from competitive predators in the African Savannah tens of thousands of years ago, or doing an appropriate amount of exercise required required by the medically intervened low disease modern sedantry lifestyle we have today.
That's because Pills = $$$ to pharma companies. Low fat foods = $$$ to food companies Eating less, and exercising more, generally is not in anyone's commercialinterest, unless you have a gym/fitness club membership. -- As an aside, the recently re-uncovered works on Alternate Day Fasting (also known as intermittent Fasting)makes compelling reading. Unfortunately for Global Corporations, it makes them no money so is ignored/often rubbished. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19112549
Porkchop the night before. Beef last night. Fish for lunch. Chicken tonight. Best way to prevent colds? Frequent hand washing, vaccinations, and limit contact with things touched by other people.
It works for the feed lot so it works on you as well. Mechanism is irrelevant when you have results. It works and its used in the feedlot. Antibiotics are not the only additive as well as well as pesticide residue. (remember agent orange a byproduct compound caused by manufacture was a dioxan)
Fundamentally the long term effects on people of - Domestic and Industrial chemicals - Medication - Domestic Toiletry/cosmetic chemicals - Environmental pollutants - Modern industrial food production are not really known. The statistical sample is not over a long enough time period to really show anything up. ... corresponding rises in Asthma.cancer etc are hardly a surprise. Though, as any good statistician will tell you "correlation does not imply causation" :-)
Actually, almost all the growth hormone studies I have seen add lean tissue/muscle and not fat - in fact just the opposite in both animals and human.
Man has always been an omnivore and hasn't been able to go vegan until the past few centuries thanks to refrigeration and transportation. You tools are entirely missing the point here.. All Antibiotics kill gut flora... Researchers are finding this is bad for us as it whacks out our cholesterol and fat and can affect the way we process carbs, etc.... This is not a debate on veganism... Veganism is bad for omnivores, it causes health issues over the long term. Moderation in everything is good and antibiotics are only good when used in smart and specific ways (not used in mass on all our animals).
That program you're on is helping you lose weight, yes. But that is seriously overprocessed food, and it is bursting with stuff that's ultimately not good for you. Instead of eating their "food", follow their sound approach and eat real, unprocessed, organic food. Otherwise, you're trading one problem for another.
In total agreement, and would put a finer point on this. Causation is impossible to be certain about. The variables you mentioned, plus many others, are themselves packed with variables. We simply don't have the computing power yet to even get close to identifying interrelated causation. However, it's pretty clear people are still looking for the sound bite/silver bullet that will absolve them of any personal responsibility for their health. Eat less, eat better, exercise (actual exercise), find ways to re-center and relax regularly. It's a simple approach we all already know works but just won't do. Until we change lifestyles and refuse to support putting absolute junk and dangerous substances into our body (like, *never* to do fast food!), nothing will change. Given our histories, nothing will change for the majority of people.
I agree!!! In the 70s growing up our dinners consisted of meat, potato and vegetables every night for dinner. I remember the excruciating pain I would have in my lower abdomen, often. As a result I developed intentional issues. Over the years I have had many bouts with diverticulitis and been hospitalized the antibiotic for treatment is flagyl and cypiro 2,500 mls a day for 10 days. This being on a diet of organic chicken and fish... I have been vegan for the last 10 days... I have never had more energy. I have never slept better. I wake up with no pain. I am never tired any more. Wow! If I had only started sooner! I just don't believe we are ment to be carnivores, no scientific research here. Just my own!!! And couldn't feel any better! Thanks for reading! Ps. Thinking a lot clearer! Yeah!!!
Gee since I haven't been sick from even a cold in the last 20 years, I guess I must not be following your concept of human nutrition. Although humans can consume just about anything, including flesh from all the animal kingdom, doesn't necessarily mean that we should, or it is good for us to do so. Curious about the last time you were ill. I'm not unique. I know lots of other vegans who just never seem to get sick either. Don't know any of my omni friends that can say the same. And what about all those Hindu's that are vegetarians/vegans from the past without refrigeration or transportation? How did they manage to survive so well. And just for your edification, veganism is not just a diet; it is a lifestyle that encompasses a respect and compassion for health in ourselves, our fellow creatures, and the planet in general. So this issue of antibiotic contamination is just one of many issues of concern to vegans.