Gaining Weight? Blame Your Medicine Cabinet

antibioticsWe've long known that overuse of antibiotics is causing problems. It can lead to antibiotic resistance, which is both a personal and global health issue: An increase in drug-resistant bacteria may result in the spread of infections that are very difficult to treat, making them highly dangerous, even deadly.

But these dangers, no matter how dire and how much we hear about them, may still seem hazy and remote to many of us. It can be hard to grasp how taking that round of penicillin for what may be an infection (or may be only a virus) just to be "on the safe side" is really putting ourselves and our society at serious risk, even though, on a larger level, we understand that's true.

Now, however, comes news that may finally cause us to stop overusing antibiotics -- a danger that hits us right in the gut, literally. There's growing evidence that antibiotics may be making us ... fat.

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Yep, studies have suggested a correlation between antibiotic use and higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart attacks. What's more, there's also evidence that antibiotics may change the healthy bacteria in our gut in a way that tricks our bodies into eating more and gaining weight. (Probiotics -- think, yogurt -- may help combat these effects.)

Personally, I do try to be careful about overusing antibiotics. I try to make sure something is, truly, a bacterial infection for which antibiotics are the appropriate treatment before taking them. But I'm sure I've occasionally taken antibiotics more frivolously than I probably should. As someone who watches my waistline and tries to keep it in check, I suspect this study may prompt me to be even more careful about my antibiotic use -- to make sure I'm taking them only when they are truly needed.

Do you think you will be more cautious about overusing antibiotics now that there's some evidence that they may be making you fat?

 

Images via michaelll/Flickr

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