Category Archives: Antibiotics

No amount of sugar can sweeten the truth – it’s ANTIBIOTICS that make us fat

Plus size girl cutting fat off
We can cut out sugar, starch or all of them – truth is, we’ll still be fat unless we cut out antibiotics

The truth is certainly that we’re all getting fat.

Two thirds of adults are already overweight or obese. So are one third of children.

Our couch potato lifestyle, junk food addiction and sugary drinks are to blame say the experts. We’re bringing this misery on ourselves.

The truth is equally that we never used to be like this. The Swinging England of the Sixties was stick thin by comparison. So were the Seventies, and the Eighties.

People slouched in front of the telly in those days too. And ate junk food. Wimpy hamburgers from Coventry Street in 1954. Pizza Hut from Islington in 1973.

And of course Coke from 1926, starting at Selfridges.

Uh huh.

The disastrous miracle

Looks like there’s more to the truth than meets the eye. Our Mums weren’t fat, so how come we are?  How come if we want to look slim, we have to be Photo-shopped that way?

Because if all the things that are supposed to make us fat were around all those years ago, why are we only ballooning up now? Our current epidemic of fatness only started in the late 90s, so what was different in the 40 years before?

Yes, well those were the days before factory farms were invented to feed the world’s exploding population. 2½ billion back then, versus 7½ billion now. Farmers needed a magic bullet or all of us would starve.

The miracle they chose was antibiotics.

First, antibiotics would keep animals healthy, all crowded together in the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) needed to supply large numbers.

Second and more amazing, antibiotics would make them grow faster. Bulk up quicker, be ready for market sooner. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

Fatter and fatter

Though scientists had known about the growth phenomenon ever since antibiotics were discovered in 1948 – overnight they rocketed to became the ultimate growth booster. Round the world, antibiotics were shovelled into animal feedstuffs like there was no tomorrow.

Today, according to a government report, 240,000 tons of antibiotics a year are used on farms around the world. By 2030, that could nearly double.

An industrial volume so staggering that medics attribute it as the major cause of antibiotic resistance. The rise of superbugs – harmful and often lethal bacteria that have mutated to become immune to treatment by antibiotics.

Officially, antibiotics are therefore banned from animal feedstuffs as a growth booster – certainly throughout the EU. They’re still used to keep animals healthy though. Their daily dose is still administered – but not as food, as medicine.

And in the super-crowded, unhealthy slum conditions of CAFOs, antibiotics are essential to keeping them alive.

Fatter vegetarians too

It doesn’t stop there.

Manure from these animals is used to enrich soil and fertilise plant crops. It’s full of nutrients – and residual antibiotics. Because as part of nature’s life balance, most animals excrete 80% of what they eat – to become a food source for plants and other living things.

Which means animals are still EATING antibiotics anyway. Not added to food, but already in there – grown from the earth in the grass, straw, soya, maize and corn they’re fed.

And that means, you guessed it, they’re laced full of antibiotics when they’re sold and wind up on our supermarket shelves. Food that we will eat, charged with these same super growth boosters – more and more with every meal. Deliberate fat-makers we don’t even know we’re eating.

It’s not just in meat either.

The same animal fertiliser is ingested by plants of all kinds – grain crops, fruit and vegetables , fruit trees, everything. They’re full of antibiotics too.

So is our water. Antibiotics from manure leach into the soil and down to the water table. They’re in our streams and reservoirs, including the Thames.  Every turn of our kitchen taps is another partial dose.

Deliberately fatter, without our permission

And there’s the truth of it. Every meal we eat, every morsel, every bite – contains a residual dose of the most efficient growth booster in human history.

We’re getting fat because our bodies respond just the same way that animals’ do. We crave power foods because our hunger switch is always on. Our bodies never know when they’ve had enough. They even extract more food value than they should, absorbing more nutrients, accelerating the fattening process.

Thanks to antibiotics, we eat too much.

Can’t face the truth? Easier to live with than the mumbo-jumbo we’ve  been sold about diets all these years though, isn’t it? Which, it seems, is not exactly the truth either.

Besides, it means it’s not our fault we’re fat.

We’re the only ones who can fix it though. And it can be done. Simple physics. We’re eating too much, so we all have to eat less.

Not easy. To succeed takes hard work and will power.

And that’s no lie.

Picture Copyright: ximagination / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-03-10 15:05:22.

Why aren’t we warned that antibiotics can make us fat?

Doc holding ABX
Not the lifesavers we think they are – they’re why we’re fat, and why we’re going to die in twenty years’ time

We get warned about other issues.

About antibiotic resistance, for instance.

That bacteria are rapidly becoming immune to our cure-all wonder drugs.

That soon doctors will not be able to treat even everyday infections. Superbugs will have won the day and medicine will return to the Dark Ages.

An antibiotic apocalypse

Yes, very true. And it’s right that we’re warned. An “antibiotic apocalypse” as Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England calls it. A threat on par with terrorism and climate change.

She’s not wrong. Except that alarm about antibiotics failure is the big stick medics are using to obtain funding to develop new ones.

Government money, that is. Drug companies won’t finance it themselves – there’s no money in it. Widespread resistance means new drugs must be used as little as possible. They’re kept for emergencies when the older drugs fail.

So the whole business of developing a new drug and bringing it to market as soon as possible no longer has legs. Bacteria can become resistant in as little as six months, and the whole investment is down the tubes.

So the idea is to push the scare tactic.

Shake the government tree for around £890 million of taxpayer’s money. An incentive for some developer to take a gamble on a new product with an unmet need. Basically a bribe.

Not going to happen, is it?

Too public, too obvious, and too fraught with failure.

The 240,000 tonne money maker

Besides, why should a drug company take risks on new products when they’re already making a fortune on the old ones?

No, no, not as medicines. As growth promoters in agriculture. Because since researchers first noticed it in the 1950s, antibiotics have become the most phenomenal growth boosters worldwide.

In the last twenty years particularly, antibiotics in animal feed have reached industrial levels. 240,000 tonnes currently and set to rise another 70% by 2030. Prompting the rise of the factory farm or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). Vital support for rocketing world population, which itself has risen threefold to 7½ billion.

Yeah, so new drugs? Forget it. Ker-chunk, ker-chunk factories are working flat out all they can to keep pace with demand for the old ones. Sorry, no time for research, too busy making money. 240,000 tonnes worth of it.

And why weren’t we warned? Because it had nothing to do with us? Has nobody noticed we’re getting fatter?

Yes, they have. And they’re all keeping schtum about why.

Super-duper growth boosters

You see, twenty years is the same time scale in which our horrendous obesity epidemic has reared up. Today, two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese –  so are a third of our kids.

And all of that time we’ve been eating from food sources deliberately laced with antibiotics to boost growth. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months.

On top of which manure from the same animals is used to enrich soil and boost plant growth. So that everything we eat, animal or vegetable, contains residual antibiotics. Every mouthful we take includes traces of the most successful growth booster of all time.

We ourselves are all eating antibiotic fatteners!

Uh huh. So why aren’t we warned?

Why aren’t we told that the reason we’re fat is not junk food, or sugary drinks, or a low exercise lifestyle?

Not natural gluttons

In thousands of years, the human body has regulated itself according to conditions. Wasting away in famine, yes. But seldom ballooning out in times of plenty. And certainly never in an epidemic like we have now.

So why aren’t we warned that just like animals, antibiotics send our food demands into overdrive? That they make appetites insatiable? And that just like animals, antibiotics make our systems absorb too much? Extracting too much nutrition and making too little waste?

We’re not naturally gluttons. Not naturally addicted to high octane, quick energy food and drink – which is what we’re accused of.

But that is what we have become. Our gut bacteria twisted by antibiotics into never being satisfied and always being hungry. Always on the lookout for a quick hit for our induced addiction.

Because pigging out on lettuce leaves will just not crack it. We’re strictly on the mainline stuff. Burgers, chips, kebabs, pizza, ice cream, chocolate, cake – all the good Mary Berry things. And all the no-nos on Jamie Oliver’s list.

Fat and fatter, that’s us.

Yet never once are we warned, despite the evidence on food farms worldwide. Though doctors already know that antibiotic medicines at a young age frequently trigger obesity by four or five.

We get blamed, it’s our fault. And our indulgent lifestyle that’s pushing us further into obesity. To the long-term killer consequences of diabetes, asthma, cancer and heart disease.

Thought antibiotics were lifesavers? We should have been warned. Made aware of a health hazard, just like cigarettes. With big bold death notices on the front of every box.

They might rescue us today – from a chest infection or surviving a heart transplant – if the bacteria don’t become resistant first.

Dead, or dying

But twenty years down the line we get the bill. A bulbous hunk of blubber on intravenous drips and breathing oxygen. Going down for the last time because of something we never knew was happening to us.

We never were – and we aren’t now.

Why aren’t we warned?

Picture Copyright: khamidulin / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-01-25 15:14:15.

Medics are worried antibiotics don’t work – but if we stop using them, we’ll all starve

Glam surgeon
Antibiotics aren’t working, people are going to die. They make people fat too, which also makes them die. The same with the animals – and if they die, we’ll all starve. But at least we’ll all be thin.

Yes, starve. At least 5 billion of us, two-thirds of the world’s population.

That’s the price tag, if we stop using antibiotics.

Not just in health, but in food production.

Where 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics are fed to livestock every year. To the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently feed us.

Which in turn generate the fertile manure to produce wheat, rice and maize – mega-crops that deliver 50% of our plant food energy. As well as the sorghum, millet, potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybean and sugar that provide the next 25 percent.

Antibiotics in everything

Food for us, food for the livestock that feed us – and all laced through with residual antibiotics.

Why?

Because antibiotics are the most efficient agricultural growth boosters ever.

In the 1950s when antibiotics were first discovered, the world population was just 2½ billion. Today – supported by exactly the same land space since the planet hasn’t got any bigger – that figure currently tops 7½ billion.

Only possible by the phenomenal growth-enhancing side effects of antibiotics in animal feedstuffs. Wonder drug medicines for us – boom time jackpot for farmers. From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months. Jackpot!

So why would we pull the plug on the miracle that feeds us all so effortlessly?

Because the bacteria-clobbering MEDICAL miracle of antibiotics is fast not working any more. Bacteria have become resistant to them and developed immunity to them. They have become ineffective – and our own chief Medical Officer for England, Dr Dame Sally Davies, says so.

Pan resistant bacteria

As if to emphasise that point, last week the exploding medical hand grenade was the 70-year-old American patient who died of carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – a bug resistant to ALL antibiotics. Pan resistant bacteria are now a reality.

Antibiotics that don’t fight germs? It’s the end of modern medicine. No more heart transplants or hip replacements. Nor births by caesarean section either. Or any one of the thousands of routine operations and treatments impossible without infection protection.

It’s the end of a lot more besides.

What about all those billions of cows and chickens – and the daily dose in their feedstuff?

To breed in numbers like that, they have to live on crowded and disease-prone factory farms. Antibiotics make them grow faster but also keep them well. Essential for survival in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)

So yes, farmers will keep shovelling antibiotics at them. With 7½ billion mouths to feed, they can’t afford not to. Antibiotics or starve.

Except that just like with us, antibiotics will start failing for them too. And when one animal dies, the rest will follow in quick succession. A bushfire epidemic ripping through a slum – exactly what a CAFO is.

No more miracles

Which puts us between a rock and a hard place. Antibiotics can’t save our lives any more – and can’t save us from starving either.

Oh, but ironically for maximum misery, antibiotics make us fat too, just like the cows. So we have the rewards of obesity to look forward to as well – diabetes, asthma, cancer heart disease. Not a happy future.

But just maybe, a pretty one. Because antibiotics are so heavily part of our diet through our food, two thirds of Brit adults are already overweight or obese – and so are a third of our kids. So at least if we starve, we won’t go out fat.

For as the glamorous Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor once said “you can’t be too rich or too thin”.

Pass the streptomycin.

Picture Copyright: beerkoff / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-01-24 17:23:41.

Now antibiotics aren’t working so good, we’ve all got to be germ dodgers

Executive karate kick
Dodge them or catch them – germs are always everywhere, ready to take you down

That’s right. Germ dodgers, not germ catchers – the kind of people we are now.

Don’t believe it?

OK, off the top of your head, when was the last time you washed your hands?

Be honest, because it’s not a trick question. It might come as a shock if you’re out and about, like most of us are.

Once we get into the day, we’re all wrapped up in what we’re doing. So washing hands isn’t even on the radar – unless of course, we need the loo.

Which means it’s actually possible – as you sit down to a night out in a restaurant – that you haven’t hit soap and water since you left home this morning. Like all of us, busy, busy, busy. Unless our hands don’t LOOK clean, we don’t even think about it.

False security

Sure, we know about germs and things, but we’re not really too worried. Life around us is clean and hygienic most of the time. Fresh, drinkable water. Efficient sewerage. Rubbish regularly taken away. Homes spotless and hoovered once a week. What’s the problem?

Because even if we do come down with some bug, our support system is pretty amazing. Either the chemist can fix us up, or our GP can. Or if it’s serious, there’s A&E. They’ll give us the medicine and we’ll be hunky dory. Antibiotics – boom, what nasty bug?

Yes well, don’t count on it being like that for too much longer.

Antibiotics are rapidly passing their sell-by date and use-by date. A lot of the time they’re past their ineffective-by date as well.

Bacteria are smart, see? With billions and billions of years’ practice at surviving whatever happens to them. A magic pill to bring them down? Sooner or later, they’ll find a way round it. Develop an immunity. Show off their antimicrobial resistance – AMR.

Bye-bye wonder drugs

Exactly the situation that’s crept up on our medical profession, while we don’t even worry a dickie-bird.

It worries the hell out them though, right to the edges of panic.

Because if antibiotics stop working, modern medicine just grinds to a halt. Big operations become impossible – even routine starts looking dodgy.

So that right now, today, it’s possible you could die from a paper cut. Without the medics being able to do a thing to save you.

And it’s already happening.

Last week with all the hoo-hah, you may have missed the news item snuck in under everything else.

About a woman in her 70s who died from carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – a bug resistant to ALL antibiotics, including carbapenem and colistin, our two super-drugs of last resort.

“… a bad infection from such bacteria can kill you no matter how rich or famous you are, what apps you have on your phone or social media sites you frequent, what kind of walls you build, how many nuclear weapons you have…”

Which is why we’ve got to start being germ dodgers instead of catchers. Our carefree lifestyle won’t let us get away with it any more.

Sloppy hygiene can kill

Make that careLESS lifestyle – with very sloppy hygiene. Because if antibiotics can’t be around to save us, the facts are frightening:

Get the picture?

Hand hygiene is our first line of defence.

But we live in a world surrounded by germs, which is how our hands get contaminated in the first place. They don’t LOOK dirty – but unless we’ve just washed them, they’re crawling with viruses and bacteria. From door handles, light switches, touchscreens, keys, money – just about everything there is in our lives.

Dodge for our lives

Except we can dodge them too – at least in the enclosed spaces where we live most of the time. And with temperatures hovering around freezing these days, that’s seriously good news.

Yes, we still need to wash our hands – because we keep touching stuff.

But just like some bacteria can resist ALL antibiotics, ionised hydrogen peroxide can destroy ALL bacteria. And all viruses, and all fungi, and all parasites.

Sprayed as mist from a machine called a Hypersteriliser, it penetrates everywhere. Offices, restaurants, classrooms and consulting rooms – oxidising all germs to nothing.

Give it 40 minutes and the place is sterile. No germs to catch, no illness to come down with. Clever dodgers, us – nothing can touch us.

Except, yes it can – as soon as we go outside again, we pick up more germs. Which makes it like brushing your teeth, ideally it gets done daily.

Dodge germs most of the time though, and most of the time you’re safe. Like not going looking for trouble, because for sure we’ll find it.

Meanwhile it’s up to the doctors and experts to come up with alternative recovery medicine if ever we do get sick. Vaccines yes, or maybe phages.

Let’s wish them luck. Who wants to stay indoors when skies are blue and the sun comes out , nudging temperatures into the 30s? Roll on summer!

Picture Copyright: slplondon / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-01-23 16:35:06.

Fat and forty? The food “Mickey Finns” that push us to obesity

Sad and overweight
Our overweight future – thanks to antibiotic Mickey Finn fat pills

One Big Mac won’t make you fat. But you can OD on them. Pushed by “Mickey Finns” that make your body always hungry.

You scoff and scoff like it’s going out of fashion. Too many calories – boom, you’re a porker.

Except it usually happens slower than that. And there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

Chubby in childhood, the pounds keep piling on. Until one day, hello forty and size 16.

It’s the Mickey Finns, see?

Invisible fat pills

None of us realise we’re taking them. They’re slipped so quietly into every meal, not even doctors realise we’re on them. Every mouthful, another little dose. An unseen diet of the most efficient growth promoters on Earth.

Make no error – these are fat boosters, Big Time. Specially chosen because they bulk up bodies fast.

One, by triggering hunger pangs all the time. Two, by never letting the body decide when to stop. And three, by making the body absorb more nutrition than it’s meant to. Nowhere to go, so all that energy is stored as fat.

Nah, we’re talking rubbish, right? Nobody in their right mind would drip-feed growth boosters to the world at large. That would trigger an obesity epidemic.

Quiet please, epidemic in progress

Uh huh.

So would somebody please explain why two thirds of all adults are already seriously overweight or obese? And why one third of our kids are too?

Kinda looks like an epidemic, doesn’t it? Even our Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, says so – though she attributes it to sugar.

Sugar as a growth booster?

If it was, there’d be farmers shovelling it into livestock as fast as they could. All those mouths to feed, see? 2½ billion of us worldwide fifty years ago – 7½ billion of us now. And all farmed off the same land area, because the planet hasn’t got any bigger in that time.

But farmers aren’t shovelling sugar, are they? It never even occurs to them.

Tell you what they are shovelling though.

Wholesale growth boosters

Antibiotics – 240,000 tonnes of them worldwide.

Which if we’ve done our maths right, works out to around 10 grams each for every one of the 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion pigs and 1 billion sheep that currently are required to feed us.

And guess what?

Using antibiotics to boost growth at volumes like that started back in the 70s.

Back when factory farms first took off Big Time. Or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as the industry calls them. Where antibiotics aren’t just used as growth boosters, they’re vital to keeping animals alive in super-crowded and unhygienic living conditions.

Big money though.  From egg to roasting chicken in six weeks. From new born calf to Aberdeen Angus steak in 14 months. Jackpot!

Rise of Mickey Finns

70s, huh? When our current fat 40-year-olds  were a twinkle in their parents’ eye.

Back when baby illnesses started regularly getting treated by antibiotics. And when doctors first noticed that antibiotics given at two years old almost guaranteed overweight youngsters by five.  Even worse, when teenagers were prescribed antibiotics so often, they’d had them 17 times before they reached 20.

But how about all those animals chomping antibiotics?

Like everything else they eat, most of them get pooed out. 80% in fact, manure to enrich soil and fertilise plant crops. So it’s not just animals ingesting antibiotics, it’s plants too – fruit, cereals, grain crops, vegetables, you name it.

Animal feed crops too. So even though they get pulled off antibiotics before they’re sent to market, those animals are still noshing antibiotics with every meal. Right there in their feedstuff. Mickey Finns for animals.

Which means just about every food type in our supermarkets has antibiotic residues in it. Drip-drip growth boosters, the same as the animals get.  And just like them, we’re fattening up too.

But there’s a difference.

The Mickey Finn price tag

Animal lives are short, once they’re fat they get eaten.

Humans are there for the obesity long haul. For the overweight conditions that challenge muscles, joints and breathing.  For the type 2 diabetes. For the asthma, cancer and heart disease. All the joys that long term obesity brings.

Mickey Finns. And we thought they were Lifesavers.

Meanwhile all our heavyweight medics are running around, worrying about antibiotic resistance. Who cares if the drugs don’t work, they’re going to kill us anyway.

So how long before the penny drops and we dump them altogether?

Picture Copyright: poznyakov / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2017-01-06 15:38:27.

Eek, not food poisoning! Keep calm and cook food thoroughly

Woman butcher
Hygiene and common sense – we’re not utterly defenceless

Relax, nobody’s going to die. Or get the collywobbles . Or anything.

As long as everything is properly cooked, we’re all going to be fine.

Because unless you’re into sushi or steak tartare, nobody eats meat raw, do they?

And if whatever you’re preparing is affected by any bacteria or something, most germs are destroyed by the high temperatures of cooking – everybody’s safe.

Take our current scare with chicken.

There’s all kinds of  official bodies jumping up and down because nearly three-quarters of the chicken in any supermarket is contaminated with campylobacter. Nasty upset tummies with that one, some people can get quite seriously ill.

Inconvenient truths

But here’s a fact of life. Pretty well most poultry has campylobacter. It occurs naturally in birds and may even be necessary for healthy existence. So chickens aren’t contaminated, they’re colonised. Cooked thoroughly, they’re perfectly safe.

It’s like we don’t eat fish with scales, or prawns with the blue vein. They could make you ill too if you were careless enough. It’s part of proper food prep, like shelling eggs, skinning oranges or peeling potatoes.

Of course you DO have to clean everything thoroughly as you do it. Knives, chopping boards, prep surfaces and all utensils need a good scrub after working with chicken. So do your hands, to avoid any risk infection.

But you were going to do all that anyway – WEREN’T you?

It’s the same with Danish bacon. Still about the best you can buy anywhere – but these days unfortunately nearly three-quarters of all Danish pork is afflicted with MRSA.

Well, with so many mouths to feed around the world, we were the ones who pressured farmers in Denmark and elsewhere into boosting production with antibiotics. Shovelling the stuff into livestock in industrial quantities too – 240,000 tonnes a year and skyrocketing.

Superbugs everywhere

Small wonder then that with hundreds of thousands of pigs, any bacteria they were carrying developed resistance. So now we have LA-MRSA (Livestock Associated Methicillin Resistant Streptococcus Aureus) THREATENING us, just like campylobacter.

Well, yes. Except that just like campylobacter, cook that Danish pork properly and all trace of LA-MRSA is removed – the bacon is safe to eat, just like previously.

And right there are two examples of highly popular food types that on the surface present a hazard, but with proper precautions are really nothing to worry about.

Yes, it is disturbing that superbugs like MRSA are in our food. But with antibiotics being used by agriculture in such astronomic quantities, we should heed and take precautions anyway. More than likely all kinds of food types are laced with other superbugs and we need to be on our guard.

At least we can turn up the heat and get rid of most of them – part of the cooking we are already doing.

Worse than superbugs

Much more worrying are residual traces of the antibiotics themselves, which heat cannot get rid of unless you boil your food for hours, losing all taste and appeal.

All those animals were fed antibiotics to keep them healthy in the super-crowded environment of factory farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). With the money-making side effect that they fattened up for market in a quarter of the time.

Yeah, well – we eat those animals, we swallow the same antibiotics, we fatten up too. On the one-way road to obesity with all the inevitable complications – diabetes, heart disease, cancer. Literally to a dead end.

Getting rid of the antibiotics – that’s an issue all of us face and none of us are ready for.  A headache for governments and health authorities for years to come.

Superbugs in our food though – they’re a problem too, but we can make them go away.

Guess that answers the question, hey? Would you prefer rare, medium or well-done?

Picture Copyright: leaf / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-10-06 15:24:02.

Why taking antibiotics is like chopping off your leg

Crazy girl with knife
Without knowing it, we’re doing ourselves more harm than good

Crazy, right? Round the twist. Who in their right mind would want to chop their leg off?

But that’s how crazy we are when we take antibiotics.

We don’t think so, of course.  But without knowing it, we’re doing ourselves serious harm.

Because antibiotics are prescribed to do one thing – kill bacteria.

Killers as life-savers?

And surprise, surprise, though none of us ever realise it – our own bodies are more bacteria than human, our cells outnumbered by more than 10 to 1.

Seems impossible and about-face, but that’s actually a good thing.

Bacteria are one of the longest-lasting life forms on Earth. Amazing survivors too. Capable of withstanding fierce high temperatures. Triple-figure sub-zero freezing temperatures. Even living and breeding in acid.

Our bodies are colonised by hundreds of trillions of these remarkable creatures. They’re vitally necessary to handle our digestion, produce proteins and manage our immune systems – among thousands of other functions. They live with our human cells in harmony – and we could not exist without them.

So yeah, we take antibiotics to kill bacteria that are harming us. The WRONG bacteria in the WRONG place, running amok among the RIGHT bacteria that are who we are.

Oh dear – chop, chop, chop.

A bomb in the guts

Because in targeting harmful bacteria, those same antibiotics inevitably kill some of our good bacteria too. Their killer action is spread wide to be sure of effectiveness. So our own systems take a hit – though we may not know it at the time.

The bacteria inside us know it though, particularly in our gut. To the trillions and trillions that live in our insides, a dose of antibiotics is like exploding a hydrogen bomb.  Millions get the chop.

Sure some of them regrow, reproducing themselves sometimes in as little as 20 minutes. But not all. Some are damaged and can’t do their job. Others –  the rarer ones – might be lost altogether. Our gut population depleted, our bio-diversity gone.

We might feel the same when our illness passes – back to normal and our usual selves.

But we’re not.

Biggest of the known side effects of antibiotics is growth promotion. The body bulks up very rapidly, putting on weight overnight . Damaged or missing bacteria cause the metabolism to gorge on food more than normal. And to extract a higher proportion of nutrients, directly accelerating the body’s over-development.

Fatter and fatter

See what happens with kids aged two, put on antibiotics. By the time they get to five they’re already overweight, well on their way to increasingly chubby childhood.

It’s this quality that has revolutionised the food industry, enabling factory farms to pump out THREE times the world’s meat and plant crop output in little more than 20 years.

Such weight gain doesn’t happen to everybody.

But it’s already a fact of life – and a key reason why two-thirds of adults are already overweight or obese.  Not just from medical treatments – frighteningly made worse by one third of all prescribed antibiotics being completely unnecessary – but from daily exposure through our FOOD.

You see, spectacular growth boosting in food production has exploded antibiotics use all over the world. Currently 240,000 tonnes annually and rocketing.

That means that through direct dosing with feedstuffs – and even more through indirect absorption of manure used to fertilise, enriching all plant life and those same feedstuffs – all of us receive a small daily intake of antibiotics with every meal we eat. Exactly the way to make us bulk up fast.

Fatter and sicker

Animals and plants quickly get eaten, so their life expectancy is not very high – a few years at most. But we go on for decades, getting steadily fatter, deeper into obesity. More prone to illnesses that obesity brings – diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many others. All long goodbyes.

Not the same as chopping off a leg – but equally unpleasant. And a lot more life-threatening.

Nor is it just getting fat that antibiotics threaten us with.

Damaged or missing bacteria deny us any immunity to serious illness we may have inherited from our parents. Our kids are denied them for the same reason, they’re no longer there to be passed on.

Worse, our bodies start reacting to conditions that aren’t there. Misreading normal signals as hostile, confusing everyday reality with phantom attacks against us.

Which is how, out of nowhere, we develop allergies. Hay fever, eczema or asthma. Or how about urticaria, anaphylactic shock or gluten reactions? People never had them 20 years ago –not in the snowballing number we have now.

Superbugs rule

And then of course – really chopping off our own leg – our undisciplined and wild overuse of antibiotics has triggered the development of superbugs.

Our cure-all miracle drugs are starting not to work any more because bacteria have become immune to them. Antimicrobial resistance.

Yes, well – we wanted to kill off bacteria, But nobody thought we were chopping off bits of ourselves.

So now we sit with life-savers that don’t work, medical surgery brought to a standstill, and all of us steadily getting fatter.

Not a survivable future

Though count on it, the bacteria that brought us down will still be around, long after we’re gone.

Oh yeah, and that antibiotic resistance superbug thing?

Wait till that runs riot across factory farms. Flash pandemics among livestock. No more food for most of us. Death by hunger is not a nice way to go – and we’re probably already too late to stop it.

Chopping off a leg, huh? Looks like we’ve already done it.

Time to reverse this antibiotics debacle now, to get off the train and find alternatives. Other solutions like bacteriophages – something, anything.

Either that, chop, chop – or we’re limping towards a future that doesn’t exist.

Picture Copyright: vatikaki / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-10-05 14:24:19.

Why we’re all going to die from antibiotics – unless a young Malaysian PhD student succeeds first

Girl in cemetery
Let’s hope antibiotics are NOT in our future

OK, most of us know that antibiotics kill bacteria.

Except it’s a shattering revelation to most of us that We are 90% bacteria. Only 10% of our bodies are human.

Yeah, life-saving antibiotics fight infection and make us well again.

But there’s always collateral damage. We never quite return to 100% ourselves again afterwards. Our personal bacteria are depleted or damaged.

All thanks to antibiotics.

A killer legacy

Miracle drugs they certainly have been, until now. But evidence is mounting that our unswerving faith in them may be misplaced. That they are in fact about the most deadly threat we face today.

Three major challenges they throw at us, all of them deadly:

  • Superbugs. Bacteria can and do find ways to resist antibiotics. They become immune, untreatable – life-threatening superbugs. The threat is so serious that the UN convened their first ever general assembly to address the issue only last week. Superbugs are expected to kill 10 million of us by 2050.
  • Obesity. We’re fat and getting fatter – two thirds of us are already overweight or obese.  Again, thanks to antibiotics. A staggering 240,000 tonnes are fed to livestock every year to accelerate growth and weight gain. Their manure fertilises crops, so that our entire food chain is laced with the most phenomenal growth booster ever. Our food bulks us up, we become obese, triggering diabetes, heart disease and cancer – together killing 500 million of us by 2050.
  • Famine. Farmers won’t stop feeding animals their biggest ever money-maker. Which means antibiotics on farms will nearly double in the next 15 years.  HALF A MILLION TONNES A YEAR gives bacteria plenty of practice to become superbugs. Which means widespread disease is inevitable – a collapse of the food supply to non-antibiotic levels. 6 billion of us can expect to starve to death.

More than two thirds of the world’s population gone. All thanks to antibiotics – the invincible superbugs they create, and the ballooning bodies they force on us that our systems cannot withstand.

Doom and gloom worldwide

An effective alternative

Except in a research lab at the University of Melbourne – where 25-year old PhD student Shu Lam from Batu Pahat in the state of Johor, Malaysia, is working on a game-changer.  Star-shaped molecules of peptide polymers that destroy superbugs WITHOUT antibiotics.

The star-shaped polymers rip bacteria walls apart WITHOUT harming the body. Destroying them in much the same way as oxygen atoms do outside the body – annihilating harmful germs in living spaces.

Shu Lam’s work is still in its infancy, but already the results are impressive. Effective against six strains of drug-resistant bacteria in the lab, and on one superbug in live mice.

Bacteriophages

Her work parallels the largely forgotten efforts of others looking for alternatives to antibiotics – particularly the use of bacteriophages.

Using a germ to catch a germ, phages are tightly targeted viruses that attack bacteria by injecting DNA and fragmenting their cells.

The practice of deploying viruses to kill bacteria became widely used by the Soviet Union during the Cold War – a practical alternative around embargoed Western antibiotics.

Meanwhile the rest of the world is still at committee stage, endlessly debating antimicrobial resistance while the rest of us fatten up daily.

Time to realise that antibiotics are not all they’re cracked up to be. Life-savers in an emergency, but killers long term.

Let’s hope the penny drops soon.

Two thirds of us could be dead by the time the gurus make a decision.

Picture Copyright: kreinick / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-09-28 14:21:42.

Why AMR on farms will be our biggest killer yet

Vet with calf
One way or another, our miracle life-saving drugs are going to kill us

Sounds all very innocent, doesn’t it? AMR on farms.

Yet within our lifetime, it could be the cause of 5 BILLION deaths – the biggest single calamity in our history.

Three little letters – AMR. Antimicrobial resistance, the increasing immunity of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi to any medicine we throw at them.

Already a global health issue, this week its superbug effect on humans became the focus of world leaders at the United Nations.

The largely British initiative was driven by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, who targeted AMR as “the greatest future threat to our civilisation.”

The real villain

And top of the list of medicines most susceptible to AMR, is our previously unequalled group of miracle wonder drugs – antibiotics.

Because they’re so amazing, antibiotics have become almost the cure-all for any kind of illness or infection.

Major surgery? Yup, they’re essential. And little Jimmy’s cough? Start him on these and come back in a week.

With this kind of “infallible” hype among doctors and patients, they’ve become over-prescribed and over-used in almost a third of all cases – dramatically accelerating the opportunities for bacteria to develop immunity.

More chance to practice, more chance to succeed. Easy-peasy when you’re a versatile organism and high survivor, able to reproduce every twenty minutes

Armageddon in the making

So yes, AMR is a global nightmare. But a midget alongside the Armageddon of AMR on farms.

240,000 TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into farm livestock every year. Industry will assert it’s to keep animals healthy. Reality is that antibiotics promote growth like nothing on Earth. Animals develop bigger, better and faster for a fraction of the cost and time.

The growth rate is so fantastic that in the 50 years since antibiotics were discovered, world food production has expanded to support a population more than THREE TIMES THE SIZE. And even more amazingly, off exactly the same amount of land – our planet is still as big as it was, half a century ago.

To do this of course, farming has become astronomically more intense. Expanding from the quaint pastoral myth of our childhood to the factory farms of today.

Ever heard of CAFOs?

That’s what industrial-scale factory farms are – Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. Google for images of “CAFO” and you’ll see what we mean. Production so concentrated, it’s like animals herded into an over-crowded block of flats.

Such environments are so unhealthy that antibiotics are vital to keeping animals alive, let alone fattening them up. They compensate for the unnatural and unhealthy conditions – the everyday “veterinary” excuse for an industry that bucks against limiting antibiotics precisely because of AMR.

And as you’d expect, AMR on farms happens on an industrial scale – just like the farms themselves.

Superbug factories

No wonder. Bacteria are the oldest and most successful living organisms on the planet. Capable of surviving intense heat, intense cold, and even heavily acid environments. No antibiotic has stood up to them for more than 25 years.

Bash bacteria all you like, they always win. So that factory farms become superbug factories.

Which means that total AMR on farms is a fast-approaching reality. By numbers alone, accelerating faster than among us humans.

And what happens when AMR on farms becomes “pan-resistant” – responsive to no antibiotics at all?

In their concentration camp environments, the animals will sicken and die. Contagion will spread among them like wildfire. Infecting neighbouring farms through contaminated manure, ground seepage and water supply.

Overnight famine

Like all epidemics, it will happen suddenly. Overnight, millions of animals will be lost. 19 billion chickens, 1.4 billion cattle, 1 billion sheep and 1 billion pigs. Most of the world’s food supply – gone.

No food. Not for the 7½ billion we are now. Precious little for the 2½ billion we were 50 years ago, before this antibiotics disaster started. A one-way ticket for at least 5 billion of us – famine and death.

But we’re already dying anyway. Because of those same antibiotics.

Yes, from disease caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

And more frighteningly, from the drip-drip sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics we ingest every meal through our food.

All this, and obesity too

Antibiotics fatten up animals. We eat them, we fatten up from the same antibiotics. If not directly, then from their manure used to fertilise crops and other animal feed. Inescapable even if we’re vegetarian. Which is why two thirds of us are already obese.

But there’s a difference. Animals only survive fourteen months before they go to market.  Bigger and fatter – a kind of short-term obesity.

We go for the long haul. Living on for decades, getting fatter and fatter, more and more obese. And paying the inevitable price for obesity – asthma, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The long, slow road to painful and miserable death.

The UN meeting wants us to develop new antibiotics, use them more responsibly and cut down on the need for them through better hygiene.

Not good enough if we read the signs.

The ultimate price

Change or no change, all antibiotics will:

  • Inevitably succumb to AMR, generating killer superbugs
  • Push increasing numbers of us into accelerating obesity
  • Unleash AMR on farms, triggering wide-scale disease, rapidly followed by famine

Three outcomes, all ending in death. Our miracle life-savers have become mass killers.

Enough tinkering with antibiotics now.

It’s time our leaders found some serious alternatives.

What’s up, Doc?

Picture Copyright: edu1971 / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-09-22 14:35:49.

What do you mean, A&E can’t take us any more?

Girl taken aback
When antibiotics stop working, so does A&E – they’re too busy, coping with life and death cases

No A&E is not closed. They’re just very busy. Life-threatening crises only – there’s some seriously heavy doctoring going on in there.

Life-threatening because that’s what they’re swamped with. Lots of people who might die.

Because of antimicrobial resistance, that’s the nightmare they’re fighting. You may have heard of it as AMR.

None of their antibiotics in the cupboard are working any more – they’re failing because of superbugs.

Doctors always knew it was going to happen. Since antibiotics were first discovered, bacteria have always found a way to develop immunity. Sooner or later, the next wonder-drug becomes useless. And now all of them are.

The end of modern medicine

So it’s back to hands-on medicine with bandages and antiseptics. Doing everything the hard way.

No more miracle recoveries, from now on we all have to face the hard facts of life.

It hasn’t happened yet of course. But it’s sure as hell going to. And very, very soon. Dr Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, has been warning us of it for years.

And when it does, all the amazing capabilities of modern medicine will come tumbling down in ruins. No more heart bypasses. The end of hip replacements. Caesarean births no longer possible. The end of any major surgery because drug-driven infection control is finished. A&E stalled.

Not just operations either. Think of all the ailments we run to the GP for that we clobber with antibiotics. Especially for our kids.

When antibiotics fail, there is no safety net. No more bacteria-bashing for us. It’s bacteria’s turn to strike back.

Yes, we’re vulnerable. But we’re not dead yet. If we’re watchful, we can survive.

Friends, not enemies

First off, if we can’t beat them, we should join them. A lot easier than most of us think, because we’re not the living beings we think we are. Only 10% of us is human.

The rest is bacteria, actually essential to our needs. Fulfilling a zillion functions – from digestion, to protein production, to even managing our immune systems. Going to war with bacteria is going to war with ourselves.

Of course there is good bacteria and bad bacteria. Or more accurately, bacteria in the right place – and bacteria in the wrong place. When we come down with bacterial ailments, those are really the bad guys in the wrong place.

Which means our best survival chances are by protecting the good bacteria from the bad. Shielding them from contact, or avoiding possible exposure. Effective defence, long before getting to A&E.

Hygiene protection

Yes, so second, we need to take care. No more blundering around without thinking. We need to be alert always. Aware of accident opportunities and steering clear. Slice your finger chopping vegetables, and you could be in serious trouble. Especially if A&E can’t help.

Third, we need all the protection we can get. Keep those bad bacteria away. Never let them get near us, so we’re never threatened.

Which puts a major stress on hygiene. Deliberately taking it way more serious – and never letting our guard down. Bad bacteria can’t get to us if there aren’t any around.

So it’s washing hands before and after we do anything. And much more thoroughly than we might have done before. Two minutes with soap and water, not the token rinse we usually kid ourselves with.

It’s cleaning and washing everything around us too. No good if our hands are clean and we touch something contaminated. Bacteria are everywhere, billions and billions of them – on every surface and in the air around us.

Yeah, OK. We can rub and scrub with bleach like we’re paranoid. We still won’t reach everywhere and bacteria are persistent. Bugs like norovirus and salmonella are notorious for coming back over and over again.

Stacking the odds

Luckily, there is a way to annihilate them. Oxidise them with hydrogen peroxide. Their cells are ripped apart by oxygen atoms. No more threat – ALL viruses and bacteria are destroyed.

And the easy way to do it? Use a Hypersteriliser. Taking the heat off A&E.

Press one button and the place mists up with IONISED hydrogen peroxide – more potent and way more effective than other methods. Electrically charged, the ultra-fine mist particles are galvanised into escaping from each other. Pushing into every crack and crevice, reaching underneath and behind things, hard up against walls, floor and ceiling.

That same charge reaches out and grabs at germs like a magnet too. With the opposite charge, they are helplessly attracted – to be zapped into nothing by an oxidising phalanx of hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet.

Germ-free – safe

Give it 40 minutes and all germs are gone. 99.9999% of them, to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6. Down to just one germ out of every million particles in the room – almost infinitesimally nothing.

Imagine, the room is germ-free. Even though we bring our own cloud of germs in with us, we’re stepping into a zero threshold. Can’t get much better protection than that.

And don’t panic, A&E might be hard-pressed, but they’re not totally swamped yet.

Bump our hygiene levels all round though, and they stand a better chance of riding the tsunami to come.

Amazing though isn’t it?

We can prevent the end of the world, just by washing our hands.

Picture Copyright: studiograndouest / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-09-21 12:11:46.