Conventional medicines can alter intestinal bacteria and increase health risks

October 25, 2019  12:03

Many common medications, including those that treat diabetes, digestive problems, bacterial infections, and even depression, can actually predispose people to certain types of infection, affecting the balance of their intestinal microbiome, Medical News Today reported.

Prescription drugs help treat diseases, ease infections, and eliminate the symptoms of some chronic diseases. However, sometimes they can cause side effects that vary in severity. Doctors and researchers do not always know about all the possible adverse outcomes.

A new study by the University Medical Center Groningen and Maastricht University Medical Centre found evidence that many common medications - from antibiotics to antidepressants - have a significant effect on gut microbiomes. They can even upset the delicate balance of bacterial populations.

This, researchers said, could increase the risk of developing intestinal infections and other health problems, including obesity and antimicrobial resistance.

Researchers compared the results of people who took prescription drugs to those who did not. They also studied the effects of individual drugs compared to drug combinations. They found that 18 common drug categories have an important effect on the bacterial composition of the intestinal microbiome, which can lead to undesirable health effects. Such effects may include intestinal infections, obesity, and various conditions related to intestinal health.

Eight of these drug categories appear to increase antimicrobial resistance.

A class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has been associated with elevated levels of Eubacterium ramulus, another potentially harmful bacterium, in people with IBS.

Meanwhile, oral steroids were associated with higher levels of methane-producing bacteria, which could contribute to weight gain and obesity.

Follow Medicine on Facebook and Twitter


  • Video
  • Event calendar
  • Archive