The Unknown Dangers of Prescription Drugs

More Evidence that Antibiotics Can Have Harmful Side Effects

by Lucy Ji, age 13

Most of us believe that medicines will help us. However, according to recent tests, prescription drugs may also contain certain antibiotics that are very powerful and possibly harmful to our bodies.

One test showed that certain antibiotics in prescription drugs could permanently destroy cells and good bacteria in the stomach. These cells and good bacteria actually help the body fight off disease and other harmful microbes. Without them, the chances of getting sick increase.    

“We may be doing long-term damage to our close friends.” says Dr. Vincent Young, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School, department of internal medicine, microbiology and immunology, referring to the good bugs.   

According to Dr. Young, the gastrointestinal tract, which consists of the mouth, stomach and intestines, is as complex as an ecosystem. The gut is filled with microorganisms, or microbes, including many that have not yet been identified by scientists.   

In one experiment, Dr. Young and his colleagues tested two groups of rats. They gave them different types of antibodies and examined the cells in their guts. The first group was given bismuth, metronidazole, and amoxicillin. The second was given cefoperazone. The antibodies given to the first group of rats are used commonly in the U.S. to fight all types of bacteria. Cefoperazone also works on a variety of types of bacteria, but it is not commonly used in this country.   

After the antibodies were administered, scientists observed changes in the guts of both groups of rats and many had fewer good and bad bacteria. Even after six weeks to “recover” from the antibodies the rats given cefoperazone were still unable to regain their guts’ original state.   

Another example is found in treating a bad bug called Clostridium Difficile, or C. diff. Normally, people have good bacteria in their bodies that can keep C. diff in check. However, many powerful antibiotics can destroy these bacteria. Without the good bacteria to fight C. diff, people treated with strong antibiotics, commonly administered in hospitals, can easily fall victim to disease.   

The bottom line is that antibiotics kill both good and bad bacteria. Luckily, there are ways to treat a few bacterial diseases such as C. diff without using such powerful antibiotics.   

It is well known among medical professionals that healthy microbes not only produce vitamins, but also help maintain a stronger immune system. Finding the balance in dosages, however, is an ongoing concern.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal]