Could these common antibiotics cause Crohn's disease?
No one knows what causes Crohn's disease that is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). I a meta-analysis, researchers found an association between Crohn's disease and antibiotics.
The drug metronidazole and a class of antimicrobials known as quinolones were linked to new onset of IBD among a large number of patients who had taken the drugs.
Metronidazole is also known as Flagyl and is used to treat parasites, vaginal yeast infections and other types of bacterial infections. Quinolones are antibiotics used to treat a wide variety of infections that commonly occur in a community setting, such as upper respiratory infections and pneumonia. A popular example of a quinolone is the drug Cipro. Quinolone drugs also deplete the intestines of 'good' bacteria.
The finding that comes from Dr. Ryan Ungaro and colleagues were presented at a conference on inflammatory bowel diseases.and reported online in "Family Practice News".
Dr. Ungaro explains how the antibiotics might lead to Crohn's disease, either directly or indirectly by somehow altering microbes in the gut to cause dysfunction that leads to IBD. "Alternatively, antibiotic exposures might just be surrogate markers for an infectious trigger that is actually associated with IBD.
For their study, Ungaro and his team looked at 11 studies that included 7,208 patients who had been newly diagnosed with IBD. Among those studied, 3,207 had ulcerative colitis, and 64 had unclassified IBD," Ungaro said.
Metronidazole (Flagyl) and quinolones showed the strongest association to new onset of IBD. In the study, all antibiotics were linked to IBD, with the exception of Penicillin. None of the antibiotics were associated with causing ulcerative colitis.
Understanding what causes or triggers Crohn's disease and other types of IBD is a focus of researchers. The autoimmune disease is difficult to manage and can be different for everyone. Ultimately, medications often fail to control inflammatory bowel disease, leading to fibrosis and the need for surgery. The findings link common antibiotics to new onset of Crohn's disease and IBD, but more studies are needed to show the drugs cause IBD.