CRF Blog

Antibiotics Have Turned Our Bodies From Gardens Into Battlefields

by Bill Hayes

In Antibiotics Have Turned Our Bodies From Gardens Into Battlefields, Wired magazine interviews NYU microbiologist Martin Blaser, author of Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

Where do the antibiotics come in then?

“Why don’t we just give some antibiotics, because it can’t hurt?” That’s how people think — doctors and patients alike. But our data says it does hurt. So we’re going to have to change our approach. If every time a baby takes a course of antibiotics, it’s going to increase their chance of getting diabetes or Crohn’s disease or obesity or asthma, maybe doctors will say, “Well, this is not without risk, so let’s wait a day and see if your baby gets better.”

My hypothesis is that every time someone takes antibiotics, a few species go to extinction in that person. I don’t have proof of this. But we know that the population sizes of some of the organisms are pretty small. For 50 or 70 years, everybody thought that if you take an antibiotic it will have some short-term effects and then everything will bounce back to normal. But why should they bounce back? If certain less common organisms disappeared, we might not even know. [more]