Study: Antibiotic Use Increases Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Irritable bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease, can increase the risk of both cancer and death.

Antibiotic use may be associated with an increased risk of new-onset inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease, according to a new study published in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

IBD is increasingly common, especially in parts of the world undergoing rapid economic development, increased sanitation, and antibiotic use. According to the study, there is a growing appreciation for the role of the gut microbiome in maintaining health; however, also growing is a concern that antibiotics may alter these fragile microbes. Potentially, this could increase the risk of gastrointestinal disease, according to the researchers.

The Swedish study examined nearly 24,000 new cases of IBD. Of those cases, 16,000 had ulcerative colitis and the other 8000 had Crohn disease. The IBD cases were compared with 28,000 siblings and 117,000 controls from the general population, according to the study.

After adjusting for risk factors, the researchers found that prior use of antibiotics was associated with a nearly 2 times increased risk of developing IBD compared with no prior use. Increased risk of Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis had the highest correlation to broad-spectrum antibiotic use. According to the study authors, previous studies on the subject of antibiotics and IBD have been small and very few have had a follow-up beyond a couple of years.

Nearly 1% of the Swedish population is affected by IBD, according to the press release. IBD has been linked to an increased risk of both cancer and death.

"To identify risk factors for IBD is important, and ultimately our aim is to prevent the disease…Our study provides another piece of the puzzle and even more reason to avoid using antibiotics needlessly," senior author Jonas F Ludvigsson, MD, pediatrician at Örebro University Hospital, and professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, said in the press release.


Antibiotics associated with increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease (Press Release) Sweden, August 17, 2020, ScienceDaily, accessed August 18, 2020

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