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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingAntibiotics are a crucial weapon in combating bacterial infections. But in a well-designed study, Washington State researchers have detected a possible connection between the use of these drugs and breast cancer.
Tina Clark, Ph.D.: "This is an exciting time for breast cancer now because this study has opened up a new avenue of inquiry into the roles of inflammation, infection, immune system function, all of these things into causing breast cancer."
The study found women who took the most antibiotics, more than 25 prescriptions over 17 years, had double the risk of breast cancer. While the findings suggest a possible link, experts say the study raises more questions than it answers.
Tina Clark: "They weren't able to discern whether the antibiotics themselves or not, or maybe the indication for antibiotics, was it the infections themselves that antibiotics prescribed to treat that is actually causing breast cancer."
Dr. Lisa Bailey: "It doesn't mean women shouldn't take antibiotics, however. If you have bacterial infection, antibiotics are best course of action to take care of that infection. The best course of action is what I would recommend to any woman. We would recommend screening mammograms at age 40, and I recommend them annually. And to get clinical breast exams on annual basis as well. And any concerns come and get checked out."
Bottom Line: Don't throw out your antibiotics but make sure you take them for the right reason.