Some antibiotic use tied to type 2 diabetes risk

Mar 25, 2015, 4:29 PM EDT
A packet of pills are pictured February 11, 2015 in Quimper, western of France.

A new study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology examined 1 million people in the U.K. who had been prescribed at least two courses of four types of antibiotics: penicillins, cephalosporins, quinolones and macrolides. Those who took two courses of those four were more likely to develop diabetes. WebMD reports:

The risk of diabetes rose with the number of antibiotics prescribed, the findings showed. Two to five courses of a penicillin increased the risk of diabetes by 8 percent, while more than five courses increased the risk by 23 percent.
Two to five courses of quinolones increased the risk of diabetes by 15 percent, and more than five courses increased the risk by 37 percent, the study found.
The higher risk of diabetes associated with the antibiotics was determined after adjusting for other diabetes risk factors such as obesity, smoking, heart disease and infections, the authors said.
Exactly how the repeated use of antibiotics might be linked diabetes is not clear, but the researchers said they suspect that it be may be related to an imbalance in people's gut bacteria brought on by antibiotics.
"While our study does not show cause and effect, we think changing levels and diversity of gut bacteria could explain the link between antibiotics and diabetes risk," study co-author Dr. Yu-Xiao Yang, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
An imbalance in gut bacteria has been previously linked to the mechanisms behind obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes in animal and human studies, the lead author of the study Dr. Ben Boursi, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the statement.
Kellman agreed, saying, "I think this study further supports the idea that problems with the microbiome can lead to metabolic dysfunction, inflammation and even diabetes."
Moreover, the antibiotics that are prescribed by doctors are likely not the only problem, he added. "Most of the antibiotics that are consumed come from the food that we eat," such as poultry and other types of meat.