Side effects to medications run the gamut: from barely noticeable such as dry mouth to the drastic one hundred pound weight gain or double-digit spike in blood pressure.
The elderly suffer a double whammy in that they usually take more drugs at the same time their guts are struggling to keep up. A graduate student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University recently asked how aspirin-as well as caffeine– may impact gut microbiota composition.
Ten probiotic supplements with strains of bifidobacteria (B. longum, B. bifidum, B. lactis, B. breve, B. infantis) and lactobacilli (L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. reuteri, L. gasseri, L. plantarum, L. casei, L. brevis, L. salivarius, L. paracasei) were individually grown.
- Exposure to aspirin decreased the bacterial population approximately 6.75 log CFU/ml.
- Exposure to caffeine decreased population approximately 0.23 log CFU/ml.
More research is needed, but given the magnitude of aspirin and coffee we consume, the line of questioning is important. Also, the new thinking is that low-dose aspirin as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be linked to lower rates of colorectal cancer. Read Low-Dose Aspirin or Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug Use and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study in Annals of Internal Medicine, September of 2015.
These findings will most likely augment consumption of these medications, which in turn may disrupt microbiota. Cost vs. benefit will be a challenge.
One other factoid from the paper: “Our results showed that six out of the ten commercial probiotic supplements contained bacterial populations as claimed on their respective labels.” Something to ponder.