Steve and Dave Flynn, better known as The Happy Pear twins, have apologised for comments made by an American doctor on their podcast, who claimed a link exists between taking antibiotics and depression.
he Wicklow brothers had invited Dr Zach Bush on this week’s podcast. During the discussion Dr Bush claimed that if he were to take “one course of antibiotics”, his risk of “major depression in the next twelve months goes up by 24pc”.
“Two courses of antibiotics in a year, my chance of getting major depression just went up by 45pc or 52pc. Of that, is a 45pc increase in anxiety disorders, 52pc in depression,” he added.
“And so you’ve got this massive risk of dysfunction of the brain, your inability to be joyful, your inability to have pleasure because you took an antibiotic. There’s a new, new discoveries that are being made in our relationship to microbiome.”
However, the comments came in for sharp criticism online from members of the public and medical experts alike.
In a statement issued to Independent.ie this afternoon, a spokesperson for Dave and Steve Flynn said: “The Happy Pear acknowledges that some of the content in a recent reel post across some of our social media platforms in relation to a podcast with US-based Dr Zac Bush MD, has caused offence, with some statements not given the appropriate qualification or context.
“It was never the intention to mislead or to misinform and we sincerely apologise for any offence caused.
“The Happy Pear is about creating happier, healthier lives and building community. The Happy Pear itself does not constitute a medical professional or medical expert opinion. Our primary purpose serves to highlight some of the health and lifestyle benefits of plant-based eating. We will endeavour to ensure that this does not happen again.”
The Greystones-based health gurus have a substantial following, including close to 1m followers on Facebook and Instagram combined, and have produced a number of very successful cookbooks.
The podcast was titled ‘Epigenetics, Microbiome, Mental and Physical Health with renowned physician Zach Bush’.
Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work, while the microbiome is the universe of bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms that live inside the human body.
Dr Zach Bush is the co-founder of Seraphic Group Inc, which according to the company’s website is an “innovation hub” that “develops and scales root-cause solutions to positively impact human and planetary health.”
According to the bio on Mr Bush’s personal website, his education has “highlighted the need for a radical departure from chemical farming and pharmacy, and his ongoing efforts are providing a path for consumers, farmers, and mega-industries to work together for a healthy future for people and planet”.
An edited version of the Happy Pear interview with Dr Bush, in which he made the claim about the link between antibiotics and depression, was posted on the the Happy Pear Instagram account to promote this week’s episode.
A message posted alongside the clip said, “Note: “We know that antibiotics can be wonderful life saving medicines, but this snippet from the wonderful Zach highlights some of the negative affects they can also have – questioning over usage/prescription.”
The post has since been deleted.
Dr Niamh Lynch, a paediatric consultant based in Cork, roundly condemned the comments made by Dr Bush in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“When your product is ‘wellness’ and you have a huge following then there is a sort of social contract there, that you wouldn’t do anything to put your followers in harm’s way. Right @thehappypear,” she wrote.
“You wouldn’t release a podcast interviewing a doctor who states that the incidence of major depression goes up by 24pc over 12 months after one course of antibiotics, and 52pc after two courses, without knowing for absolute certain that these stats are scientifically reliable.
“You wouldn’t do that, because you know amongst your half a million or so followers, there are bound to be some vulnerable people. People who would hate to fall back into depression. People who might refuse a necessary antibiotic because of the fear you may just have activated.
“You wouldn’t do that because if even one life were to be endangered due to fear of antibiotics, that would be too many. That would mean you had crossed a very dangerous line,” she added.
“Your delicious vegan recipes won’t harm anyone. But a podcast like that? Well, there’s a chance it might. And you wouldn’t have that on your conscience. Would you?”
Another Twitter account holder posted: “Seems The Happy Pear brand have gone rogue. Please check as they appear to be promoting medical misinformation,”
Meanwhile, a separate Twitter user simply commented: “Please don’t look to The Happy Pear for medical advice.”
The Happy Pear has a longstanding partnership with Supervalu and Independent.ie contact the supermarket chain for comment. Independent.ie also attempted to make contact with Dr Zach Bush for comment.
It comes as last June, Steve and Dave Flynn were forced to apologise for a video they posted which suggested ways to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer through diet.
The video, which was posted on their Instagram account in April and then deleted, made claims about breast cancer rates in women in the UK and other high-income countries, and put forward ways people can reduce their risk of breast cancer.
The short video posted to the pair’s Instagram came in for heavy criticism online, with many commenters urging them to remove the video.
The twins later admitted they made a “mistake” and promised to “stay in our lane” in the future in relation to what they discuss online.