Morphine’s Bad Influence on the Microbiome


Science Life

800px-pseudomonasPainkillers are an important tool in the hospital. After major surgery, relieving a patient’s pain using morphine and other opiates helps their recovery and quality of life while the body heals. But these drugs are not without their side effects and risks, from the potential for dependence to symptoms such as nausea, constipation, and itching. More recently, researchers have found that morphine may have more serious consequences, such as promoting tumor growth. A new study, conducted by surgeons from the University of Chicago Medicine, adds another warning to the list, revealing the bad influence of morphine upon normally harmless bacteria living in the human gut.

As discussed last week, the bacterial species Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a frequent inhabitant of the human body, usually colonizing the intestinal lining under peaceful conditions. But when that comfortable environment is disrupted by illness or surgery, what John Alverdy, professor of surgery…

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