Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Missing Microbes

Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues

Dr. Martin Blaser writes about his journey to understand the importance of the microbiome. He presents research about the overuse of antibiotics and the damage it is causing our health. He explains how bacterial and human cells have had a symbiotic relationship for thousands of years, and the sudden change in that relationship is contributing to many of the health problems humans experience today. He advocates that new approaches need to be taken towards antibiotics and bacteria if we are to avoid unintended consequences.

The focus of this book was about how overused antibiotics are. Prescriptions are written because it is thought it will not hurt a person, so more antibiotics are distributed than is necessary. Antibiotics are used in farm feed to help animals grow, and consequently end up in the food we eat. He also wrote how c-sections change the personal microbes that babies would normally be given during the birth process. I found this section very interesting. While Blaser acknowledges that antibiotics and c-sections have saved lives and should be used when necessary, he posits that the overuse of them will have impact on our health.

I liked reading about the importance of microbes in our lives. Blaser provides a good overview on the topic. I thought it was very approachable, and the average reader would have no problem understanding this book. Blaser included some personal stories at appropriate moments that will help many people identify with the science in ways they might not have expected to. While there was not a lot of information about what the individual can do beyond avoiding unnecessary antibiotics, it was a very informative book, and it will be intriguing to see what some of these studies show us in the future.

I recommend reading this book.

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