A news study published in PLOS One revealed that the chronic use of antibiotics during the forties/fifties would be linked to a cognitive decline in women. The antibiotics are used to treat or prevent certain types of bacterial infections. They act in killing bacteria or preventing them from spreading.
The effect of antibiotics on the brain
Few studies have examined the cognitive impact of chronic antibiotic use in middle-aged people without dementia. Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Our brain is not isolated from the rest of the body, but it is connected to it in various ways. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed for many treatable conditions and have revolutionized healthcare; however, few studies have been conducted on their long-term effects on memory and thinking.”
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Rush University Medical Center decided to investigate. They studied the impact of chronic antibiotic use during the forties/fifties on cognitive function.
Based on a questionnaire completed by 14,542 nurses living in the United States, the researchers found that women who took antibiotics for two months between the ages of forty and fifty had poorer memory and thinking skills, up to seven years later.
The questionnaire contained information on their use of antibiotics and measured certain aspects of their memory and their reflection. The results remained consistent even after taking into account other potential factors that could have influenced this link, including the presence of other health conditions.
The change in memory and thinking due to antibiotic use was roughly equivalent to three or four years of aging.
The gut-brain axis
The study did not examine the direct effect of antibiotics on gut microbiota. However, as reported Medical News Today, the use of antibiotics can alter the microbiome intestinal because, thanks to their nature, these drugs kill bacteria. These changes can last for months or years after exposure to antibiotics.
There is a direct communication channel between the intestine and the central nervous system, which is called the gut-brain axis. Scientists believe that this axis allows gut bacteria to influence the brain.
The gut microbiota regulates brain development and function throughout life. Separate research has established that changes in the gut microbiota may play a role in the development of psychiatric and neurological disorders, such as anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Sherry Ross, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, told Medical News Today:
“The continued use of antibiotics is harmful in many ways to our health. […] This study showed another association between chronic antibiotic use […] and decline in cognitive abilities.”
This article is a translation of a publication byOh! My Mag UK.