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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Arizona: Antibiotics and Weight Change in Women

Antibiotic use in early life has been associated with weight gain in several populations. However, associations between chronic antibiotic use and weight among adults in the general population are unknown.

Dr. Melissa Furlong, a postdoctoral fellow and environmental epidemiologist at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, and colleagues, conducted an analysis to examine the association of different antibiotics with weight change. The study was published online in the journal PLOS One, May 16.

Dr. Furlong began her research while she was a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Using data from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Sister Study, a longitudinal cohort of sisters of women with breast cancer, the researchers examined associations between chronic antibiotic use for three or more months and subsequent obesity via logistic regression, and subsequent weight change with linear regression.

In adjusted analyses, chronic penicillin use during the 4th decade of life was associated with obesity at enrollment, and use in the 5 years prior to enrollment was associated with increased body mass index (BMI) change after enrollment. Use of bactericidals during the 4th decade of life was also associated with obesity at enrollment. Associations for penicillins and bactericidals were consistent across indications for use.

The findings suggest that chronic use of antibiotics during adulthood may have long-lasting impacts on BMI. Associations may differ by antibiotic class, and confounding by indication may be important for some antibiotic classes.

Full study

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