Study: Long-Term Antibiotic Use Might Have Troubling Consequences for Women

A team of US scientists reveals that using antibiotics in middle adulthood carries a higher risk of heart disease-related deaths for senior women.

The latest data about worldwide antibiotic use is worrisome, as scientist predict that misuse and the dramatic rise in consumption will lead to bacteria becoming resistant to most (if not all) antibiotics we have. Of course, it goes without saying that this would be a problem of catastrophic proportions for all of humanity. But, even with the grand scale implications of imprudent antibiotic use put aside, there are various negative aspects of antibiotic use a person can experience: side-effects range from diarrhea to fungal infections. A recent study proposes that potential adverse effects of antibiotics might be much more sinister than that- at least for senior women.

The study that was presented at an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans reports that prolonged antibiotics use increases mortality rates in senior women. More precisely, women aged 60 or older who took antibiotics for at least two months were 27 percent more likely to die from any cause over a period of eight years, with a 58 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease. The research included data from more than 37,000 U.S. women, and the findings remained the same even when additional factors such as diet, weight, and habits were added to the equation.

While the results of the research are indisputably worrisome, they might not be as definitive as you might think. Although there seems to be a correlation between antibiotic use and increased mortality rates, there is no conclusive proof of a causal link. Dr. Lu Qi, a professor of epidemiology at Tulane University, and the lead author, highlights that the reason behind their findings might be that women who had to use antibiotics on a long-term basis were merely “sick in other unmeasured way” which tipped the scales in their direction, rather than the antibiotic use itself.

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