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Patients on long-term antibiotics for acne are at increased risk of upper respiratory tract infection, a study of UK general practice reveals.

The study found long-term users of antibiotics were 2.15 times more likely to develop a URTI than acne patients who did not receive antibiotics.

The finding, revealed in a study of 118,496 patients, persisted when health care-seeking behaviour and mode of administration of the antibiotic were taken into account.

Study leader Dr David Margolis, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the US, said the effect was 'unlikely to be attributable solely to an increased frequency of medical care sought by individuals with acne'.

But he said: 'The true clinical importance of our findings will need further investigation.'

Professor Tony Avery, professor of primary health care at the University of Nottingham, agreed more work was needed.

Professor Avery, who has researched the cost-effectiveness of acne treatments for the NHS, added: 'Our study of five different regimes did not show an increase in antibiotic resistance, but this may have been because of the short duration of treatment (18 weeks) and patients were still on treatment at their final assessment.'

The study, published in Archives of Dermatology (September), found no association between antibiotic use and urinary tract infection.

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