Antibiotics are drugs used to fight infections
caused by bacteria
. The first crude antibiotic was discovered in the late 1800's, yet it was not until the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1928 that antibiotic treatment won widespread medical approval. Among other causes, illness can be the result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Today's antibiotics are quite effective against bacterial infections. However, antibiotics are not useful in combating the common cold
(flu), both of which are viral infections.
There are several general classes of antibiotics including macrolides, penicillins, quinolones, sulfonamides, and tetracyclines. Each class is designed to attack certain types of bacteria. Unfortunately, through overuse, the medical community has abused many once effective antibiotic treatments. By prescribing antibiotics for illnesses in which they are not clinically necessary, physicians
have assisted bacteria in evolving and becoming resistant to certain antibiotic drugs. Such overuse is a serious and growing health problem that may render the tremendous medical advances made in fighting bacterial infections moot.
In February 2004, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that antibiotics are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer
. The study, which examined 10,000 Washington state women, found that those who took more than 25 courses of antibiotics over an average of 17 years had twice the risk of breast cancer than women who did not take antibiotics. Women who took between one and 25 prescriptions over the same period had a one-and-a-half times increased risk for breast cancer.
Researchers involved in the study warn that the data does not conclusively link antibiotics to causing breast cancer-only that an association is present. Women may have been on antibiotics to treat a condition that is an underlying cause of breast cancer..
- Avelox / Moxifloxacin Hydrochloride
- Biaxin / Clarithromycin: Overview
- Cipro / Ciprofloxacin
- Cleocin / Clindamycin: Overview
- Doxycycline: Overview
- Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs: Overview
- Erythromycin: Overview
- Floxin / Ofloxacin
- Ketek / Telithromycin
- Levaquin / Levofloxacin
- Minocin / Minocycline Hydrochloride
- Raxar / Grepafloxacin
- Tequin / Gatifloxacin
- Trimethoprim: Overview
- Trovan / Trovafloxacin
- Xigris / Drotrecogin Alfa
- Zithromax / Azithromycin: Overview
- Zyvox / Linezolid
- Breast Cancer
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Antibiotics: Frequently Asked Questions