Streams

Microbes, Antibiotics and Our Health

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The human microbiome is the combination of bacterial and human cells that exist in a peaceful symbiosis and is responsible for the health and equilibrium of our body. Dr. Martin Blaser explains the role of the microbiome in keeping us healthy and discusses how the overuse of antibiotics is harming our health—contributing to the rise of obesity, asthma, diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. In Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Dr. Blaser takes us into both the lab and deep into the fields where these troubling effects can be witnessed firsthand and tells us what we can do to avoid even more catastrophic health problems in the future.

Guests:

Dr. Martin Blaser

Comments [29]

Dwight

I think he said that Type-I diabetes is also increasing, and that the age of onset, which before was around nine years, has decreased to six and even two years of age. I didn't realize that Type-I is an auto-immune disease.

May. 09 2014 03:50 PM
John A

People are reminded that the growing problem of diabetes-in-juveniles today is with type II. Type I numbers appear flat, type II is increasing. Type II is no longer considered adult onset per se.

May. 08 2014 12:26 PM

So here's a thought - Maybe Leonard should do a "Please Explain" segment on Type 1, aka "Juvenile Diabetes" since he repeatedly confuses the two main types and likely confuses his many listeners. I'd wager that every person in the audience even remotely connected to a loved one with Type 1 would appreciate it. Not just for our collective edification but for Leonard's as well.

May. 07 2014 11:42 PM
W. A. Robison from Natchitoches, Louisiana

I really enjoy listening to the podcasts of Leonard Lopate's show, but I always cringe when the topic has anything to do with antibiotics. At some point in the past, Leonard developed the affected pronunciation of antibiotics as anti-bee-otics. Time after time, his guests pronounce the word correctly as anti-bye-otics, but he persists in keeping his bees. I was surprised that he did say Micro-bye-ome and not Micro-bee-ome. Did he learn this pronunciation from his high school or college Bee-ology teacher? (It is NOT the British pronunciation. The American pronunciation may be anti-bye-otic or an-tye-bye-otic, and the British pronunciation generally does not have the an-tye-bye-otic, but neither of them have Bee-otic.)

May. 07 2014 10:37 PM

I'm stunned that a smart guy like Leonard thinks that Type 1 diabetes s caused by eating sugar. Stunned and irritated.

May. 07 2014 03:03 PM

I'm gratified that Dr. Blaser corrected Mr. Lopate's erroneous assumption that the increased incidence of juvenile diabetes (now known as "type 1" diabetes) is tied to rising sugar consumption. This misperception can contribute to victim blaming and a sense of shame. Its causes are as complex as the guest suggests, and yes, perhaps diminished microbial diversity is one culprit. For further insights, see "A Epidemic of Absence" by Velasquez-Manoff.

May. 07 2014 01:39 PM

Due to a condition my son had at birth related to his urinary tract he had to take antibiotics prophylactically for 2 years until surgery was performed to repair his urinary tract. At the time I asked his urologist if the antibiotics would screw up his microbial flora and she said sort of condescendingly that she wondered what kind of floral an infant/toddler even has. 10 years later he's a healthy kid but I wonder if there will be consequences down the road. I suspect that if I were to bring this new information about the benefits of microbes to her attention she would defend the practice of using antibiotics prophylactically to prevent infection, which is understandable.

May. 07 2014 12:50 PM
John A

I hope dr Blaser gets effect, but maybe hope isn't enough. I note that this is the same doctor who, when he appeared on "Fresh Air", (14-Apr) the host insisted that she needed antibiotics for her colds even After he made his point. Government regulation necessary?

May. 07 2014 12:42 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Standards for organic meats & dairy/eggs don't allow routine use of antibiotics, but I've heard some farmers think they can't be organic if they use antibiotics *at all*. Is the actual requirememt not clear enough in the law?

May. 07 2014 12:38 PM
Katie from Brooklyn, NY 11238

I've read that you should only rinse your genitals with water while bathing, so as not to disturb the natural bacterias and cleansing mucus. Could you speak to this? Is it true for both male and female?

May. 07 2014 12:38 PM
Rochelle from jersey shore

What about other things that may be killing the bacteria -- I read a recent paper on Round-up (and other pesticides) being taken up into plants and into us, then killing our flora?

May. 07 2014 12:35 PM
Rochelle from jersey shore

What about other things that may be killing the bacteria -- I read a recent paper on Round-up (and other pesticides) being taken up into plants and into us, then killing our flora?

May. 07 2014 12:34 PM
Alan Levin from New Jersey

Never took antibiotics or gave them to my kids but this winter got a bad case of MERSA and went on antibiotics for 30 days. Could the weight gain that I had be caused by the anitbiotics?

May. 07 2014 12:33 PM
joh n

Does fluoride effect gd flora ?

May. 07 2014 12:32 PM
T

Please discuss the over use of antibiotics in relation to the PROFIT the drug companies are earning from their use. Doctor's need to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry and be more conscious about why they prescribe what they do.

May. 07 2014 12:31 PM
Tim from Brooklyn

Vaccinations- currently 46 recommended for children…. what about that connection??

May. 07 2014 12:31 PM
zach from brooklyn

Celiac disease is NOT AN ALLERGY. It is an auto-immune response from the presence of gluten in the diet which makes the body attack itself and destroy the microvilli in the small intestine. An allergy is a histamine response.

May. 07 2014 12:30 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If babies are born w/no more microbiome than they pick up passing through their mothers' birth canals, how much of the weight they gain in the 1st week/month/year of life consists of the increase in the microbiome?

Dr. Blaser said some of the human microbiome goes back thousands of years. Could that be added to mitochondrial & Y-chromosome DNA to trace ancestry & past population migrations? Could it help in anthropology & archaeology?

May. 07 2014 12:30 PM
suzinne from bronx

Received a heavy dose (500 mg 2x a day) after skin cancer surgery. Directly following that, came down with RAGING yeast infection. And since then, I've suffered with hives and skin rashes even though I had no skin problems for many years. I believe I acquired an immune deficiency all because of these ANTIBIOTICS. Of course, the surgeon, even being a very good doctor failed to explain any of these potential problems to me.

May. 07 2014 12:27 PM
Linda Natanagara from ocean, NJ

I am past the "ear infection" stage with my children, but am curious . . when you take a child to the dr. for an ear infection, is there a way the doctor would know whether it's viral or bacterial? then could a doctor recommend a waiting period before prescribing antibiotics?

May. 07 2014 12:24 PM
John A

Can an external infection be swabbed, stained and viewed to determine the bacterial / non bacterial status of the infection? Aren't antibiotics so frequently used because there are so few effective tests. (or, are they just saving a few bucks?)

May. 07 2014 12:24 PM
Capper from NYC

Could missing Microbes have something to do with a growing population of kids who are allergic to peanuts, and/or adults with glutten issues, etc..

Incidentally, our pediatricians first have our kids fight off a cold, ear infection by their own antibodies. As a result, we've never had to give our kids an atibiotic, maybe only once when they were younger.

May. 07 2014 12:21 PM
Neil from Vero Beach FL

Can you discuss the problems with antibiotics accumulating in the liver and the harm this may cause?

May. 07 2014 12:20 PM
Capper from NYC

Could missing Microbes have something to do with a growing population of kids who are allergic to peanuts, and/or adults with glutten issues, etc..

Incidentally, our pediatricians first have our kids fight off a cold, ear infection by their own antibodies. As a result, we've never had to give our kids an atibiotic, maybe only once when they were younger.

May. 07 2014 12:20 PM
Hillary from Brooklyn

Can you ask the guest to talk about the practice of prescribing low doses of antibiotics to take after sex as a preventative for urinary tract infections in women who have them as a recurrent problem? Is this something we should avoid? If so, is there another solution for this recurring problem?

May. 07 2014 12:18 PM
Bamini from Brooklyn

How do all juice diets (or say the new Soylent diet) impact the composition of the gut microbiome?

May. 07 2014 12:16 PM

Are probiotics useful

May. 07 2014 12:16 PM
Jen from NY metro area

Read a study that scientist were studying two groups: a group of Africans who are still hunter gatherers and a group of Italians who are eating the Mediterranean diet. There were significant difference between the microbiome between the two groups. The hunter gathers had much more bio-diversity. There was also significant difference between male and females in that same group. Researchers mainly attributed this to dietary difference because of gender roles (e.g. hunting for males). Just wondering are there scientist working on dietary impact of the microbiome in the US? If so, where and what are they doing? What kinds of things are they learning?

May. 07 2014 12:16 PM
Steve from NJ

Frequently, mothers the deliver via C-section do not wind up breast feeding in the hours immediately following the delivery, if at all. Has this factor been controlled for when people have looked at children that were delivered via C-section and their increased susceptibility for diabetes/obesity/etc?

May. 07 2014 12:15 PM

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