antibiotics

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Penicillin, the first antibiotic, was discovered from bread mold. Since its discovery, many miraculous antibiotics have been developed, but are we coming to the end of an era? Certain antibiotic infections used to only develop and be transmitted in hospitals, but not anymore. It turns out that livestock may consume nearly 80% of the antibiotics in the USA. This may then create the antibiotic resistant superbugs that are now found in a significant portion of store bought meat (see also here, here, here and here), and that kill 23, 000 Americans every year. Seems a high price to pay to save a penny per pound at the till.

Normal cooking can kill some, but not all, of these superbugs, and cross-contamination may lead to infection regardless of how well the meat is cooked. Certain E. coli infections of the gut may lead to urinary tract infections (UTI’s) that may indirectly increase the risk of breast cancer because treatment with antibiotics can wipe out beneficial gut bacteria. Disrupting the delicate balance of the gut microbiome may also lead to weight gain and diarrhea. Drugs like antibiotics have been considered one possible explanation for the link between chicken consumption and other cancers. Cranberry juice seems to be protective against UTI’s and owning a dog may reduce the risk of ear infections in children and in doing so may reduce antibiotic exposure..

Evidence based medicine is finally doing away with the neutropenic diet for cancer patients, but is there a diet we should follow? In one study, organic meat seems to be slightly less contaminated than traditional, and may also have lower proportion of MDR bacteria. Antibiotics may not be the only drugs (or heavy metals) we’re getting with meat. A vegetarian diet may lower the levels of antibiotics in people not actually taking antibiotics. White meat of chicken may contain more antibiotics than dark meat. Using antiseptic mouthwash may inhibit your athletic prowess; swishing with green tea is a good alternative.

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