Antibiotics Associated With Increased Risk of Colon Cancer Among Certain Patients

New research presented at the ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer suggests that antibiotic use may increase the risk of colon cancer, especially in individuals under the age of 50. The researchers warn that the unnecessary use of antibiotics could put patients at risk.

The study used a Scottish primary care database to examine nearly 8,000 patients with colon cancer compared to those without colon cancer. Through this analysis, the researchers found that antibiotic use in all age groups was associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Furthermore, the risk increased by almost 50% for patients under 50 years of age, while the increase was only 9% in patients over 50 years of age.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study linking antibiotic use to the growing risk of early-onset colon cancer — a disease that has increased by at least 3% per year over the past two decades,” says Sarah Perrott. , from the University of Aberdeen, in a data presentation. “Junk foods, sugary drinks, obesity and alcohol have likely played a role in that increase, but our data emphasize the importance of avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, especially in children and young adults.”

The researchers found that antibiotics were linked to cancers in the first part of the colon, the right side, and in the younger patients. In particular, the development of these cancers on the right side has been associated with quinolones and sulfonamides/trimethoprim, which are used to treat a number of infections. According to the researchers, the contents of the right side of the colon are more fluid, and as such, the microbiome in this part of the colon may differ from that in other parts of the colon.

“We now want to know if there is a link between antibiotic use and changes in the microbiome that may make the colon more susceptible to cancer, especially in younger people,” said Leslie Samuel, MSc, in a press release. “It’s a complex situation because we know that the microbiome can quickly return to its previous state, even if the gut has been emptied for a diagnostic procedure such as an endoscopy. We don’t yet know whether antibiotics can have effects on the microbiome that are direct or indirect.” may contribute to the development of colon cancer.”

Adding further to the concern is that younger patients with colon cancer — between the ages of 20 and 40 — have a worse prognosis than older individuals, as they are often diagnosed later.

“Doctors are less likely to examine a patient with abdominal discomfort for colon cancer in their 30s than in their 70s, and younger patients are not eligible for colon cancer screening,” said Alberto Sobrero, MD, in the release. . “As a result, their cancer is usually diagnosed at a later stage, when it’s more difficult to treat.”


Colon cancer data reinforces the need to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use [news release]. EurekAlert; July 2, 2021. Accessed July 6, 2021.

Comments are closed.