Oh no, cancer! We’ve got to be kidding, right?
Doctors are there to save lives, not threaten them.
True. And more dedicated, committed professionals you could never find anywhere.
Except our own cleverness is catching up- with us.
Especially with antibiotics.
Deadly to bacteria, in more ways than one
We think of them as lifesavers – and yes, they are. Without antibiotics, most of modern medicine would be near impossible – particularly surgical procedures.
Heart bypasses and joint replacements might be routine, but without antibiotics to control infection they couldn’t even be attempted.
Medical miracles, it’s amazing what antibiotics have enabled us to do.
But the gleam is fading.
Fifty years after they were first discovered, they’re showing a major downside. Increasingly, bacteria are mutating to neutralise their effect – the germs that can kill us are becoming immune. Unstoppable.
Over-use and abuse
Totally our fault of course.
We have these magic silver bullets – so of course we use them everywhere. Doctors know they’re potent and need care, which is why all antibiotics are on prescription. But we’re so hyped up about these amazing cure-alls, we demand them for everything.
Which puts us on the cliff edge – about to plunge backwards, more than a hundred years. If antibiotics don’t work any more, what do we do then?
It’s a growing headache – which England’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Dame Sally Davies, puts on the same scale as the threat of terrorism. People are going to die because antibiotics don’t work any more – and doctors are powerless to prevent it.
But not quite yet.
Not all antibiotics are powerless against germs, even though some germs have evolved to be resistant to ALL antibiotics. If we can curb our massive over-use, we stand a fighting chance.
Which is why Dame Sally and the whole medical profession are constantly campaigning to limit antibiotic use.
A monumental uphill battle. Thanks to patient pressure, one in four of all prescriptions for antibiotics written in the UK is unnecessary. Minor ailments are sledge-hammer blitzed when ordinary paracetamol would be more than effective.
Or even a nice, restorative cup of tea – our grandparents knew a thing or two.
But medical over-use is only the tip of the iceberg.
Every year, over FOUR HUNDRED TONNES of antibiotics are shovelled into livestock up and down the country together with their regular feed.
Big profits drive this – the farmers’ rolling jackpot. Because the name of the game in agriculture is that antibiotics promote growth.
They bulk up animals and plants to twice the size in half the time – often even quicker. From egg to supermarket chicken in six weeks – or more amazingly, calves for quality beef are market-ready between 3 and 16 weeks.
Forget medical cures, the big plus with antibiotics is they MAKE THINGS GROW FAT.
So while we’ve been swallowing pills to make us better, farmers have been shoving them in to make animals bigger. On an industrial scale – think ship-building or trucks.
And they’ve been doing it for over fifty years – accelerating over the last twenty. Billions and billions of cattle, pigs, sheep, poultry and fish. Billions and billions of tonnes of fruit, vegetables and grain crops. Our entire food spectrum at the supermarket.
Which means everything we’ve been eating for the last twenty years has included proven growth promoters – through antibiotics added DIRECTLY to animal feed, or RESIDUAL quantities acquired via manure and soil enrichment.
So guess what? WE’RE GETTING FAT TOO. Two thirds of us are already overweight and lurching towards serious medical problems.
Down in our gut, where our personal bacteria thrive, digesting our food and maintaining our systems, antibiotics have disturbed the natural balance that controls our appetite – putting our pedal to the metal in ghrelin production, the hormone that tells us to eat, eat, eat.
Crucial bacteria are destroyed or damaged, encouraging the growth of enterobacteriaceae, the obesity pathogen. And we’re up to our necks in an obesity epidemic – which according to Dame Sally is ALSO as dangerous as terrorism.
Makes you fat, makes you ill
And that’s where the cancer comes in. From the ciprofloxacin given to you by your doctor.
It might have cured your chest infection – but could also be the spur that tips your gut bacteria over the edge, wiping out whole families of useful and friendly bacteria, allowing enterobacteriaceae to thrive.
You may not have started fat, but along with the other trace antibiotics you eat daily with every meal, it’s so easy to bulk up. Size, 16, size 18 – jump-starting your way to obesity.
And obesity triggers not only cancer, but heart disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout and asthma. Better watch your diet very carefully now – you can’t undo the damage or replace the missing bacteria, but you can avoid the slippery slope.
Priority One, avoid antibiotics as much as you can. Difficult when they’re in everything you eat, but you can REDUCE your intake. Organic vegetables as far as possible – they’re less likely to be grown from enriched manure – and deep ocean fish like cod and haddock, the ones they CAN’T farm.
Priority Two, avoid germs, so you don’t need antibiotics. Wash your hands whenever you think of it – certainly before food and after the loo. They might LOOK clean, but you can’t see viruses or bacteria – sometimes as small as 2 microns across, they’re difficult even with a microscope.
But they’re there, always – nano-dirt you can’t see, just waiting to enter your body – transferred from your fingers onto food – or into the soft tissue round your eyes and mouth.
They’re all around us too, on every surface and swirling around us in the air. Know how the sun shows up dust particles in a cross-beam? Germs are like that, only billions of times more – constant work for your immune system.
But you can reduce those too by making your rooms sterile, bringing viruses and bacteria around you down to zero. All it takes is a Hypersteriliser, a machine that mists up the air with ionised hydrogen peroxide, an eco-friendly germ killer that reaches everywhere and grabs germs on the fly, oxidising them to nothing.
Will your doctor give you cancer?
Not today, thank goodness. But don’t go asking for antibiotics unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Yeah, they’re lifesavers. But in ten or twenty years time, if they trigger obesity, they could also make you dead.
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