Allergies, autism, eczema and even obesity may be linked to the widespread use and abuse of Antibiotics , according to Professor Martin Blaser, the Director of the Human Microbe Biome Programme at New York University, in his new book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues. VoR’s Tim Ecott spoke to him in New York.
Prof Blaser explained his hypothesis to VoR: “My basic idea is that most of the cells in the human body are microbes. These microbes are ancient, they have been cast down from generation to generation and that we are changing them and these changes have consequences.
“The changes are due to the overuse of antibiotics as prescriptions, especially for children, due to antibiotics being in our air, food and water as well. It is also due to many anti-bacterial exposures in our environment, the anti-bacterial sanitizers, the food preservatives – everything is cumulative and has been degrading our internal microbe bio.
“Since World War II there has been a number of diseases that have risen extraordinarily in their incidents. These include asthma, obesity, diabetes, juvenile diabetes, food allergies , inflammatory bowel disease, autism and the list goes on and on. And all these diseases have risen more or less in parallel.
“So the question is, do we have ten different causes or is there one cause that may be fuelling all of them. It is my hypothesis that is a change in our ancient microbe bio?
“Most cells in the human body are actually bacteria. Our bacterial cells constitute 70-90 percent of all the cells in our body. And there is a wide body of evidence to suggest that it is inherited over generations.
“These bacteria are not just passive. They are part of human physiology and they are interacting with our cells in ways that are choreographed. And in modern days we have changed that.
“Among the primary agents for the negative agents is the tremendous overuse of antibiotics, especially in childhood. This is in developing countries and in the developed world.
“Another major factor is all the antibiotics we are getting passively, through our food, milk, drinking water, coming from the use on the farm.
“I was struck by the fact that farmers have been giving antibiotics to their farm animals for the past 70 years to promote their growth. If farmers are giving antibiotics early in life to their farm animals, what is the effect of all the antibiotics we are giving to our children?
“We have begun to study this in the laboratory, where we have shown that giving antibiotics early in life is promoting changes in the body composition, increasing fattiness and changing the liver. There is a grown body of evidence at least for obesity that antibiotics are contributing to this phenomenon."