It took guts to dump the EU – now we need guts again to dump antibiotics

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Fighting woman
Time to get tough and take hard decisions

Dump? As in “get rid of?” We can’t be serious, antibiotics save lives. We’d literally be dead without them!

We’ll be dead with them too – after long, slow, lingering illnesses.

Just like the EU – all milk and honey right now, but a disastrous train smash down the line.

Nobody wants to accept it, even our health gurus look like they’re in denial. But the evidence is shoved in our faces every day – antibiotics are a Jekyll and Hyde monster.

Because, yes, antibiotics do save lives. Modern medicine would be impossible without them. Miracles like heart transplants, hip replacements and caesarean births – sorry, can’t be done any more.

The mega-downside

It’s a hell of a lot to lose.

But a hell of a lot worse if we don’t dump antibiotics right now – and start actively hunting alternatives.

You see, while all the miracle-making has been grabbing headlines and saving thousands from certain fatality, the dark side of antibiotics has been creeping up, and is already threatening millions.

We need to dump them like the plague.

Which is exactly the kind of damage that antibiotics are doing. And it takes guts to realise it – because that’s where it’s happening – in your gut and ours, in everyone’s on the planet.

Down there, in our tummies, where digestion takes place. Low-profile background antibiotics at work. Not like the triple-whammy intravenous super heroes. Or the local dab-on-skin trouble-shooters.

Killers at work

Out of sight, out of mind, these guys are killers too – because that’s what antibiotics do, they kill bacteria. And by being in our tummies, they kill some of our own gut bacteria, the vital friendly kind that handle digestion, produce proteins, manage our immune systems and a thousand other chores.

They don’t just kill, they maim. Cause our bacteria to malfunction.

One thing they do is switch off our appetite control – we never know when we’ve had enough, so we overeat a lot of the time.

The other thing is to bump up food absorption – we extract more nutrients than our systems are meant to, making us fatter and fatter.

It’s not our food that does this – the burgers, pizza and chicken so many of us like so much. It’s the antibiotics IN our food – so we eat two helpings instead of one, with double ice cream afterwards, and a mega-Coke, just to be sure.

The proof is in our bulging waistlines – two-thirds of us are bigger than at any time in our history, already overweight or clinically obese – unwanted extra pounds that we’ve never had before.

Over-absorption

Demonised junk food maybe, but even our esteemed Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, has not totally rejected pizza. Just a nibble from a smaller portion perhaps – as recommended by the Department of Health.

A miniscule taste of spinach and mushroom on a whole-wheat base – no challenge at all to a slim and trim athletic figure. No, not pizza, not junk food, not couch potato lifestyle, none of the current bogeys.

It’s over-eating and over-absorption that’s the problem. With over-absorption sneaking up on an increasing number of us unawares. Which means Dame Sally is right when she identifies obesity as a threat on par with terrorism.

Actually, it’s worse. Several million times worse.

Terrorism plus-plus

It might be hard to believe judging from headlines around the world, but UK deaths from terrorism currently average the same as from bees, just 5 a year.   Yes, shockingly, world-wide terrorist casualties for 2014 reached a grisly 32,658 – about the same as Europe-wide road accidents.

Against that, obesity-linked diseases are projected at 38,500 new cases of cancer a year by 2035 – plus 4.62 million new cases of type 2 diabetes, and 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease. That’s a staggering 7.6 million of us – roughly 10% of the nation – way worse than terrorism.

So how do we know it’s antibiotics that fatten us? And how do they get into our food?

Quite simply, from the 240,000 tonnes of antibiotics the world uses every year – around 70-80% of them shovelled into commercial farming livestock, to stabilise intensive factory-farm production AND perform as growth boosters.

For the last 50 years farming has been revolutionised by the phenomenal effect antibiotics have in accelerating growth in farm animals. Added to livestock feed in small doses every day, their performance is astounding. From egg to full-grown roasting chicken in 6 weeks. From calf to Aberdeen Angus sirloin steak in 16 months instead of four years.

All in the poo

But animals are only the beginning. Though they fatten up amazingly, they still dump around 80% of the nutrients they eat as dung.  Cow pats rich in nutrients, supplements, vaccines and antibiotics – which are all collected and used as manure – prized “all-natural” fertiliser for all kinds of plant crops – grains, vegetables, fruit, and of course feedstuffs.

So whatever it is we’re eating, “re-cycled” antibiotics are already in our food chain. Chomped down unwittingly in small doses with every meal, just like the animals. Proven growth boosters administered in exactly the same way – yet health authorities are either in denial, or don’t want to know, that they are the trigger for our obesity.

Obesity that becomes our death sentence – more and more of us crowding in on the NHS – fading from the scene, losing our grip, heading for a feet-first exit.

Like the plague

Yeah, dump antibiotics. Dump them like the plague.

Dump them before there aren’t many of us left.

Sure it takes guts, knowing that they can’t save us after an accident, or keep us alive in major surgery. We’ll just have to bump our hygiene to compensate. Give those germs less and less of a chance to get at us.

Even sterilise our environment to reduce illnesses picked up from each other – the flu that goes around the office, or something more serious – easy enough with a hydrogen peroxide mister.

We know that dumping wins.

We just have to keep at it.

Picture Copyright: fotofreaks / 123RF Stock Photo