Dr Dingle's Blog / cancer
Most people do not realise that the majority of the chronic illnesses we suffer from today are not only preventable but many are also reversible.So what better way to show you than individual case studies. But these are only a few of the hndreds and hundreds we have seen
Ann was diagnosed with systemic sclerosis at 24yrs and after 8 months she was totally able to reverse the condition. She is now 41yrs old.
Claire was diagnosed in 2009 as a type II diabetic suffering extreme cramps in my calves, feet, hands, abdominal muscles when bent over and in my neck muscles when yawning too hard. Night time was a nightmare – the worse one was when I had leg cramp ten times in one night, each episode taking up to 20 – 30 minutes to “walk off”. All her results are back within normal limits.
Robyn was suddenly taken ill in the in the early '90s and was diagnosed with everything from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Fibromyalgia and became moderately depressed. She started changing her cleaning and personal care items and noticed small improvements. She eats no refined foods, avoids people and situations that don't have a positive input into our lives, including TV and newspapers. She meditates 20 minutes twice every day and goes to bed early and get up early ensuring a good 8-9hrs sleep every night. She now uses a treadmill each day, and can jog for 40 mins and hasn’t felt so good since that last day she played tennis 2 decades ago. She said she now feels about 40yrs old instead of 64yrs and is almost free from all the pain she endured for all that time. “Life is good (again)”.
At 61, Derek started to experience pain in my chest and was referred to a heart specialist and was told that my main artery was 75% to 80% blocked and another two were 30% blocked. He was told that although a good diet would help some, it was not possible to clear the blockages completely and he would require a stent. He made changes in his diet and lifestyle and a year later he went back for another stress test. His stamina and heart function were so greatly improved and his cardiologist could not believe it. The blockages were reduced to the point that they hardly registered at all. In fact, the cardiologist was so impressed he wanted Derek to talk to his team about what I did to get such amazing results. Derek is now 65 and says he feels great. “Peter’s book is filled with amazing information and is the first step to educating yourself”
At 65 Sam had shingles, sleep apnoea, 4 hours of ordinary sleep a night and acid reflux. After just one month of adopting an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant anti- acid producing diet and a few practices to help with his stress he felt like a new man. Still a long way to go he hasn’t felt this good in decades.
Rebecca was 16 and had almost every possible skin condition including eczema, psoriasis and acne. She was tired and because of her skin very antisocial. Applying some anti-inflammatory nutrients like aloe vera and green tea extract to her skin along with strong probiotics, prebiotics and foods to feed the gut microbiota Rebecca saw big changes in just 2 months. She also used low toxicity skin care products without parabens, phthalates and solvents and cut out sugar, sweets and processed food from her diet.
Belinda’s blood pressure was as high as 204/105. Yesterday it was 116/56. “Diet and drug companies are not overjoyed when I speak. I am 81 and the body is better now than 60 years ago”. The secret is she walks briskly 30 minutes a day and average 7,000 steps a day, eat five times a day (small nutritious portions) and avoid processed high salt and sugar, drink lots of water… lots of it. No sugar drinks. Belinda now talks to clubs, businesses and groups all over East Texas with a fun simple message of transforming to a healthy, happy life no matter how old or young you are.
Barry’s blood pressure recently shot up to over 220/110. He saw five different doctors. They all had the same answer: pharmaceuticals. Turns out the root cause was that I recently had an appendectomy, and during the surgery they had misaligned my C1 vertebra. Along with improved nutrition and a healthier lifestyle my chiropractor fixed me.
Amanda followed the program we teach and has one or two smoothies every day, supplements and off sugar and processed foods and within one month her blood pressure dropped more than 50 points, her psoriasis disappeared and she more energy than I had 20 years ago.
It is amazing what the body can do once it has the good nutrition and lifestyle factors to heal itself
If you have been to one of my talks you would have heard me emphasize the importance of inflammation and the need to lower your body's chronic inflammation levels. Of course one of the major sources of ongoing chronic inflammation is the gut.
Inflammation is literally the body “on fire” and is a primary immune mechanism response of the body to a range of noxious stimuli. This can include infectious agents, such as bacteria or virus, oxidation or acidosis, damaged or diseased tissues.
The main function of inflammation is a short-term response to resolve infection and to repair damage in order to achieve homeostasis (balance) in the body. The ideal inflammatory response is therefore rapid and destructive, yet specific and very limited. This is the reddening and swelling you see around any infected or injured area. Most of us are familiar with redness, heat, swelling, and pain associated with inflammation. These symptoms are created by the activity of immune cells working to break down injured and dying tissues so that new, healthy ones can replace them.
Unfortunately, we have created a situation in which we now suffer from chronic low-level inflammation over decades of our lives as a result of our unhealthy and unbalanced lifestyles and diet. Chronic inflammation is being shown to be involved in the onset and the development of most, if not all, chronic illnesses that are currently at epidemic proportions in our society. These include atherosclerosis (damaged and blocked arteries), heart disease, stroke, obesity, neurodegenerative diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid disorders, diabetes, asthma, autism, arthritis, celiac disease, eczema, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, migraines, periodontal disease, sleep apnea, chronic kidney failure, cancer and ageing. This is a long list, yet these are only the most common conditions.
Even though chronic inflammation in the body is hard to detect, there are some common symptoms for which we should be on the lookout. These include the following:
Chronic pain in the joints and/or muscles
Allergies or asthma
Elevated blood pressure
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels
Gut issues (constipation or diarrhoea)
Aches, pain and sorenessThe inflammatory process is driven by the immune system. In order to reduce the incidence of disease, you must reduce inflammation, and to reduce inflammation you must identify and eliminate immune system trigger(s). The typical approach of allopathic medicine is to treat the symptoms of the disease itself, or the immune system (with immune-suppressive drugs) or inflammation (with anti-inflammatory drugs) directly without addressing the underlying cause of the disease. Sustainable health, on the other hand, looks at identifying and eliminating the sources of the inflammation to address the situation at its cause.
 Shelton and Miller 2010.
 Schwarzenberg and Sinaiko 2006.
 Taubes 2002; Ridker et al. 1997, 2000.
Many studies have been done on psychosocial factors and their impact on our health and even how long we live. More recently some of these have been able to show that having a sense of purpose can have many health benefits from lowering stress to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease cancer and even living longer and it doesn’t matter how old you are. The benefits of perceiving and living a life directed toward a broader purpose are widespread and feeling that you have a sense of purpose in life may help you live longer, no matter what your age.
At a biological level having a sense of purpose has been shown to be associated with more positive body biochemistry and lower cortisol (stress) levels and lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines 1, the chemicals linked to cancer, heart attacks and chronic disease which represents one possible mechanism through which purpose in life influences mortality.
Having a purpose in life provides individuals with a sense of direction and goals for the future, as well as a marker of flourishing and a life well-lived. A strong sense of purpose buffers us from the storms of life. It like the roots of a tree, keeping us steady and grounded even in stormy weather. It provides us with a greater sense of controlling our direction in life, are more motivated and may even feel inspired. However, our sense of purpose is not to make money it has to be directed at something greater than yourself.
In research among teens and young adults having a sense of purpose enabled them to look beyond themselves to appreciate their role in the world and to build the psychological resilience necessary to overcome adversity. There is evidence that focusing on personally meaningful and valued goals can buffer the negative effects of stress by allowing individuals to reinforce a sense of who they are and that creating opportunities for individuals to cultivate a sense of purpose is important as we move forward as a society2.
Having a high sense of purpose in life has also been associated with lower risk of heart disease and stroke. In a review of 10 relevant studies with the data of more than 137,000 people they defined purpose in life as a sense of meaning and direction, and a feeling that life is worth living. Previous research has linked purpose to psychological health and well-being and this study found that a high sense of purpose is associated with a 23 percent reduction in death from all causes and a 19 percent reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or the need for coronary artery bypass surgery or a cardiac stenting procedure. This is better than any drug and has multiple other benefits.
Previous studies have suggested that finding a purpose in life lowers risk of mortality above and beyond other factors that are known to predict longevity. Purposeful adults tend to outlive their peers and experience a diminished risk for both cognitive decline and disability in older adulthood. Moreover, having a purpose in life appears to lead to unique health benefits relative to other aspects of psychological well-being, such as having positive relations with others. In this study of 749 people with an average age of 60 found that the participants’ sense of purpose was positively associated with multiple positive health qualities including vigorous and moderate activity, vegetable intake, flossing, and sleep quality 3.
In another study of 6985 adults between the ages of 51 to 61 and a follow up for 14 years life purpose was significantly associated with all-cause mortality. Those with the strongest sense of purpose almost 2 and a half times more likely to be alive comparing those in the lowest life purpose category. Particularly compelling was the reduction in deaths from heart, circulatory, and blood conditions. Purpose had similar benefits for adults regardless of retirement status, a known mortality risk factor. And the longevity benefits of purpose in life held even after other indicators of psychological well-being, such as positive relations and positive emotions, were taken into account. These findings suggest that there's something unique about finding a purpose that seems to be leading to greater longevity 4.
These findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose. So the earlier someone comes to a direction for life, the earlier these protective effects may be able to occur.
So what is your sense of purpose?
Write it down
1 Ryff CD, Singer BH, Dienberg Love G. Positive health: connecting well-being with biology. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2004;359(1449):1383-1394.
2 A. L. Burrow, P. L. Hill. Derailed by Diversity? Purpose Buffers the Relationship Between Ethnic Composition on Trains and Passenger Negative Mood. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0146167213499377
4 . P. L. Hill, N. A. Turiano. Purpose in Life as a Predictor of Mortality Across Adulthood. Psychological Science, 2014; DOI: 10.1177/0956797614531799
The question of whether sunscreen prevents skin cancer is an ambiguous one. Many epidemiological studies show an increased risk of skin cancer to the sunscreen user. Similarly, a review of studies on skin cancer and sunscreens by Science News, vol 153 1998, found that people who used sunscreen are more likely to develop basal cell cancer than people who did not. Science News also examined ten studies of melanoma, five of them concluded that people who used sunscreen were more likely than non users to develop melanoma. Three of the studies found no association between melanoma and sunscreen use, and two studies found that people who used sunscreen were the most protected. Science News, vol 153 1998, found that epidemiological data was not conclusive. This may be because people involved in the studies were not wearing effective sunscreen, or were staying in the sun longer because they thought they were protected or some other factors that were not considered in the studies. This highlights the difficulty in studying and interpreting studies of humans and the study of epidemiology.
More recently, results of a randomized controlled trial of adults using sunscreen daily found increased risk of basal cell carcinoma. Other results have shown a case-control study from southern Sweden of 571 patients diagnosed with malignant melanoma showed significantly raised odds ratio for developing malignant melanoma after regular sunscreen use.
Different factors must be taken in to account to elucidate the preventive effects or actual lack of preventative effects from sunscreen. This can include sunscreen misuse and actual application methods that provide a false impression of safety in the sun. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every 2 hours as total skin absorption of most sunscreens is around 2 hours. It may also be that sun-sensitive persons typically are more likely to use sunscreens and are at a higher risk of melanoma, thus reports of increased risk for melanoma among sunscreen users may reflect an increased risk among sun-sensitive persons rather than an increased risk solely due to sunscreen use. Sunscreen use may also be leading to increased risk of melanoma by individuals assuming that the use of sunscreen allows them to be exposed to sun light for extended periods of time without any ill effects. The point is we just do not know.
Early sunscreens primarily protected against UVB radiation but not UVA radiation. 90% of melanomas are caused by UVA radiation. Since older sunscreens only blocked UVB radiation they would not have blocked the full range of wavelengths causing melanomas, so their protection against melanoma would have been minimal. Therefore prior to the addition of UVA absorbing compounds to sunscreen in 1989, by allowing increased exposures by preventing UVB burning, sunscreen users could actually increase UVA exposures and melanoma prevalence. This suggests that any studies prior to 1989 that found sunscreen to increase the likelihood of melanomas do not accurately portray the effects of sunscreens used today and further highlights the serious limitations of epidemiological studies..
The possibility still remains that these products may be contributing to skin cancers and this is supported by the fact that a potential mechanism for the development of skin cancers with some of the toxic chemicals used in sunscreens can occur and cannot be ignored.
My personal preference is to use less toxic chemicals on my skin and get more sun.
Growing up as a child in the 60’s there was lots of space to play on the street, in the big back yards, nearby parks, creeks, the beach and lots of green spaces. While we we have lost a lot of these spaces research is showing that the more “green” we are surrounded with the the healthier it is for us. We exhibit more than just a preference for natural scenes and settings; we suffer health problems when we lose contact with our green surrounds. Increasing evidence indicates that nature provides restorative experiences that directly affect people's physical, social and mental well-being and health in a positive way including decreased mortality.
A recent study found that living in more densely vegetated areas was associated with fewer deaths from causes other than accidents. Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study researchers estimated a 12% lower rate of non-accidental death between women who lived in the most densely versus least densely vegetated areas. When looking at specific causes of death, the researchers estimated a 41% lower rate of kidney disease mortality, a 34% lower rate of respiratory disease mortality, and a 13% lower rate of cancer mortality in the women who lived in the greenest areas, compared with those in the least green areas. A study in the Netherlands found a lower prevalence of diseases in areas with more green space, including coronary heart disease and diabetes. In a cross-sectional study of 11,404 adults in Australia the odds of hospitalization for heart disease or stroke was 37% lower, and the odds of self-reported heart disease or stroke was 16% lower, among adults with highly variable greenness around their home, compared to those in neighborhoods with low variability in greenness. The odds of heart disease or stroke decreased by 7% per unit with every 25% increase in the level of greenness. In an interesting experiment where 14 children undertook two, 15 min bouts of cycling at a moderate exercise intensity while in one situation viewing a film of cycling in a forest setting and another with no visual stimulus. The systolic blood pressure (the top or higher number) 15 minutes after exercise was significantly lower following green exercise compared to the control condition. So if it works for kids it should also work for us we get older.
The rise in obesity is well documented and while there are many contributing factors a systematic review of green space research from sixty studies reported the majority (68%) of papers found a positive association between green spaces and obesity-related health indicators. One study found that increased vegetation was associated with reduced weight among young people living in high population densities and across eight European cities, people were 40% less likely to be obese in the greenest areas. Overall, the majority of studies found some evidence of a relationship with weight and green space. The lower rates of obesity, adverse health and improved health outcomes may be attributable to higher levels of physical activity, such as neighborhood walking which is positively influenced by the natural environment. Walking is the most popular physical activity particularly as we age, and levels of recreational walking have been linked the distance to and attractiveness of local parks and ovals. Many studies have reported that adults with access to a large high-quality park within walking distance (within 1600 m) from home have elevated levels of walking and and in general live longer. In a review of 50 studies twenty studies (40%) reported a positive association between green space and physical activity, including older adults.
Being around vegetation can lead to better mental health and less stress, positive emotions, focus and attention, as well as reduced stress. While walking itself can reduce stress, walking in a natural setting provides greater stress-relieving benefits. Accessible green spaces are ‘escape facilities’, and lack of access to green space contributes to poor mental health. Some of the more potent restorative effects of nature relate to being able to ‘get away’ from everyday settings and immerse oneself in an extensive natural setting that creates a sense of being in a ‘whole other world’.
Perhaps as we decide to age healthier we need to spend more time near green spaces.
Another reason to add some of the cabbage family to your daily diet, preferably raw is because of their gut healing properties and how they promote gut health through the gut microbiome. The Brassica family including cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, arugula (rocket), bok choy, cauliflower, collard greens, radish, turnip and others have been recognized for their gut healing and gut health properties for hundreds of years and modern epidemiologic studies have shown a frequent consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with lower risk of cancer, especially cancers of the digestive tract, bladder, breast, prostate, and lung. However, only now are we recognizing that many of these benefits are mediated through the microbiome and that their frequent consumption alters the composition of the microbiome.
Cruciferous vegetables are a rich source of glucosinolates a precursor to the Isothiocyanates (ITC), which exhibit powerful biological functions in fighting cancers, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative diseases and gut healing. The Isothiocyanates are a by product of specific plant enzymes (myrosinase) active during chewing or crushing when broccoli is consumed raw or lightly steamed, however, like all enzymes myrosinase is deactivated by cooking and ingestion of cooked broccoli typically provides only about one tenth the amount of isothiocyanates as that from raw broccoli. So to maximize the gut healing, gut health and overall benefits of these foods they are best eaten raw or just lightly steamed.
Instead when cooked cruciferous vegetables are consumed, gut bacteria are mainly responsible for ITC production in the gut. This is highlighted after taking oral antibiotics, the ITC’s availability and uptake decreases after eating cooked cruciferous vegetable. It also appears that there is considerable difference in the ability of individuals, due to individual differences in gut microbial community, to produce the isothiocyanates. Although, the gut community’s ability is altered over just 4 days. In one study feeding raw or cooked broccoli for four days or longer both changed the microbiota composition and caused a greater production of isothiocyanates. Interestingly, a three-day withdrawal from broccoli reversed the increased microbial metabolites suggesting that the microbiota requires four or more days of broccoli consumption and is reversible.
The lactic acid bacteria appear to have myrosinase-like activity and the fermented Brassica food products, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are particularly rich in Lactobacillus, and a diet rich in Brassica may promote Lactobacillus growth in the colon.
Since the 1980's, there has been a growing amount of research toward the potential interaction between these environmental estrogens and wild animals, with a number of reports detailing the emergence of 'feminised wildlife’ around the world, and a range of adverse effects in humans including decreased sperm count, increased cases of testicular cancer and testicular abnormalities, increased breast cancer in men and women and premature or precocious puberty. Other adverse health outcomes linked with EDC’s include headache, migraine, depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, insomnia, changes in breast tissue and in vaginal bleeding. More chronic symptoms affect the cardiovascular system, the skin (itching, rash, abnormal pigmentation), the gallbladder, and tumours particularly of the breast but also uterus, cervix, vagina and liver. While other studies have shown increases in the organ weight of estrogen-sensitive tissues such as the uterus, and calcium and bone metabolism are all examples of the estrogenic effects. Even how we age and age at menopause can be affected by these chemicals. In support of this at least one professional and very conservative group, the Endocrine Society, has concluded that sufficient evidence now exists linking endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to adverse human reproductive effects, including possible epigenetic and trans-generational effects.
Unfortunately, our babies are being born pre-polluted with chemicals detectable in their blood, in the placenta and in amniotic fluid because of exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy and throughout the mother’s life. The placental barrier has been shown to allow these chemicals to cross, as many of them have been measured in human fetal cord blood, fetal serum, human amniotic fluid and even newborn stools (meconium). Exposure to these chemicals before birth poses a serious health risks to developing fetus, infants and young children as shown by the increasing adverse effects including negative birth outcomes, childhood obesity and increasing intellectual disabilities. It is believed that current levels of environmental estrogen exposure results in lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, poorer neuromuscular maturity and visual recognition, delays in psychomotor development, short term memory problems, and growth retardation in newborn babies. Fetal exposure to these environmental estrogens are suspected of disrupting thyroid functioning, sexual differentiation of the brain in foetal development and cognitive motor function and cause anxious behaviour. They are also able to bind to neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, neuroepinophrine and dopamine enabling estrogens to influence the body's central nervous system (CNS). Environmental estrogens have also been shown to effect the body’s immune system.
Studies have found strong links with exposure to excessive levels of estrogen in males with penis abnormalities, lower libido, congenital anomalies, failure of the testes to descend and testicular cancer, reduced penis size and increased embryo mortality.
What is most concerning regarding control of these chemicals is that there are no indications given or regulations set regarding the minimal age at which they should be used or exposed to them. Increasingly, pregnant mothers, infants, pre-pubescent and pubescent children are being exposed to a large number of products containing these chemicals, with no research to show that exposure is safe during these critical periods of development.
Equally strong is the evidence that these same chemicals can cause some of the most common cancers: prostate and testicular cancer in men and breast cancer in women. One of the most troubling is their association with breast cancer. Breast cancer is the major cancer affecting women in the Western world and one of the most disturbing and well documented current trends is the alarming increase in breast cancer incidence over the past few decades. Fifty years ago the risk rate was one woman in 20; today it is one in 8 and approximately two-thirds of breast tumors are estrogen receptive, and environmental estrogens like parabens, phthalates and BPA are known to bind to estrogen receptors. Estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer, are known to be highly responsive to estrogens for growth. Even more disturbing is the increase in numbers of young girls developing breast cancer.
Despite what we are often told the overwhelming evidence shows that Type 2 diabetes is a diet and lifestyle illness. It also shows that when you reverse the conditions that caused it the disease is also reversible.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a chronic disease closely linked to the epidemic of obesity that requires long-term medical attention to limit the development of its wide range of complications. Many of these complications arise from the combination of resistance to insulin action, inadequate insulin secretion, and excessive or inappropriate glucagon secretion. Approximately 10% of the population of the USA and Canada have a diagnosis of T2D, and the morbidity and mortality rates associated with it are fairly high. The economic burden of T2D in the USA is $245 billion and around $20 billion in Australia.
This case documents three patients referred to the Intensive Dietary Management clinic in Toronto, Canada, for insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes. It demonstrates the effectiveness of therapeutic fasting to reverse their insulin resistance, resulting in cessation of insulin therapy while maintaining control of their blood sugars. In addition, these patients were also able to lose significant amounts of body weight, reduce their waist circumference and also reduce their glycated haemoglobin level.
These three cases exemplify that therapeutic fasting may reduce insulin requirements in T2D. Given the rising cost of insulin, patients may potentially save significant money. Further, the reduced need for syringes and blood glucose monitoring may reduce patient discomfort.
Therapeutic fasting has the potential to fill this gap in diabetes care by providing similar intensive caloric restriction and hormonal benefits as bariatric surgery without the invasive and dangerous surgery. During fasting periods, patients are allowed to drink unlimited amounts of very low-calorie fluids such as water, coffee, tea and bone broth. A general multivitamin supplement is encouraged to provide adequate micronutrients. Precise fasting schedules vary depending primarily on the patient’s preference, ranging from 16 hours to several days. On eating days, patients are encouraged to eat a diet low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, which decreases blood glucose and insulin secretion.
This means that patients with T2D can reverse their diseases without the worry of side effects and financial burden of many pharmaceuticals, as well as the unknown long-term risks and uncertainty of surgery, all by means of therapeutic fasting.
While antibiotics have been lifesaving, the over-prescription of antibiotics has sparked the evolution of drug-resistant strains of life threatening bacteria, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths each year. The US Centers for Disease Control estimate that up to 50% of antibiotics prescribed in the US are unnecessary. Unfortunately, the use of antibiotics is often prescribed for those groups who are more vulnerable to dysbiosis, including infants born via C-section and in those born preterm, compared to term infants born vaginally, potentially compounding the problems. Micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites cause many of the world’s diseases, yet only bacterial infections are usually susceptible to treatment with commonly prescribed antibiotics.
However, more subtle side effects of antibiotics on the gut microbiome are only just beginning to be discovered. Broad-spectrum antibiotics can impact up to 30% of the bacteria among the human microbiota, resulting in severe loss of species and function and begins immediately following antibiotic administration. The effects can sometimes last for years after its cessation, and may also lead to the total extinction of some beneficial microbial species. As few as three days of treatment with the most commonly prescribed antibiotics can result in sustained reductions in microbiota diversity. A typical two-week course of high-dose antibiotic treatment, as might be used for an ear infection, can wipe out most of the beneficial gut microbes.
These antibiotic-induced changes in the microbiota have been linked to many disease states including increased infections, metabolic disturbances, obesity, autoimmunity, and mental health conditions. Common outcomes of antibiotics the antibiotic-disturbed gut microbiota are diarrhea and infections with Clostridium difficile, particularly in infants.
Early life exposure to antibiotics presents the greatest risk of long-term damage to the gut microbiota and the more you take, the worse it is. In young children, antibiotics may change the development of the “adult” microbiota, and not allow its normal maturation. It has also been hypothesized to cause a delay in microbial maturation from six to 12 months after birth. Early life exposure is also associated with numerous diseases later in life including IBD, obesity, and asthma, as well as the development of immune-mediated metabolic and neurological diseases.
In a meta-analysis of eight studies including 12,082 subjects, antibiotic use in the first year of life was significantly associated with two-fold (200%) increased chance of the child having asthma. One study reported the use of antibiotics in newborns increased the risk of developing asthma by 24 times. Probiotics during the neonatal period were protective and reduced the risk by as much as 86% for childhood asthma for kids at risk. Studies of mice treated with antibiotics in early life revealed altered microbial populations within the gut microbiota and consequently increased the susceptibility of these mice to asthma.
Antibiotic use has also been shown to have long-term effects on brain neurochemistry and behavior. Such use is known to alter the intestinal microbiome with subsequent changes in microbiota to gut-brain axis and result in poorer neuro-cognitive outcomes later in life.
Even treatment with a single antibiotic course was associated with a 25% higher risk for depression and the risk increased with recurrent antibiotic exposures to 40% for two to five courses and 56% for more than five courses of antibiotics. The higher the rates of antibiotic use, the higher the rates of depression. Animal studies have shown that high doses of a cocktail of antibiotics induced lasting changes in gut microbiota associated with behavioural alterations.
Animal studies of early life exposure to antibiotics show lasting immune and metabolic consequences. Administration of low doses of penicillin to mice early in life increases the risk of weight gain and obesity and promotes lipid accumulation by altering the gut microbiota. Mice treated continuously with low-dose penicillin from one week before birth until weaning exhibited higher body weight and fat mass in adulthood, although the microbial structure returned to normal after four weeks of antibiotics cessation. There is also evidence of antibiotics playing a role in the development of IBD in children and that antibiotic usage during the first year of life was more common in those diagnosed with IBD later in life.
In human studies, mother’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy is consistently associated with cow’s milk allergy, wheeze, asthma, and atopic dermatitis, with the strongest association for antibiotic use in the third trimester of pregnancy. A study of 306 children with asthma showed that mother’s use of antibiotics during pregnancy increased the risk by a whopping four times (390%). Low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy and early postnatal life in the offspring of mice resulted in lasting effects on gut microbiota, increased brain inflammation, and resulted in anxiety-like behaviours and displays of aggression. Similar results have been shown for antibiotic exposure through breastfeeding.
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