A new UK study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology has demonstrated a link between repeated antibiotic courses and type 2 diabetes. It involved 208,000 participants with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and 816,000 participants without these conditions, both groups being similar in age and gender distributions. The investigators observed an 8% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those who were prescribed 2-5 penicillin-like antibiotics and 23% increased risk among those prescribed more than 5. These observed risks were even higher with use of another class of antibiotics known as quinolones at 15% and 37% respectively. They concluded that the more antibiotic prescriptions patients received the more likely they were to develop type 2 diabetes. This association was not demonstrated with type 1 diabetes or with the use of antifungal/antiviral medications. It is arguable that the infections are a result of diabetes but the investigators are not sure which of the two is responsible for the other. What can be done to reduce patients’ repeated exposure to antibiotics? How can patients reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
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