Over the last few decades, probiotics have grown in popularity primarily due to their role in the reversal of dysbiosis – a change in the function or composition of the microbes in the gut which is presumed to be the cause of many degenerative and chronic diseases. Many people also turn to probiotics to improve digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, etc. The food sources of probiotics are yogurt, buttermilk, kimchi, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, etc.

Probiotics and Cancer

Currently, many studies indicate that probiotics may have anti-cancer properties and also might be useful in treating some inflammatory disorders. However, most of these studies have a small sample size and poor methodology. Hence, further studies are needed to prove the benefits of probiotics for use in cancer treatment.

  • According to some preliminary studies, oral administration of Lactobacillus casei BL23 has a high potential to treat colorectal cancer.
  • In an animal study, it was found that a probiotic mixture suppresses the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma in mice.
  • In a systematic review, it was found that probiotic supplementation led to a reduced frequency and severity of treatment-associate diarrhea and the need for anti-diarrheal medication in cancer patients.
  • In another study, cancer patients who were given perioperative probiotic treatment showed reduced infections at the surgical sites and improved bowel function.
  • Studies also show that different people respond differently to probiotics because the genes that respond to them are strain-specific and to cluster according to the individual and not by intervention.

References & More Information

  1. Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
  2. Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
  3. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Probiotics.
  4. Lenoir M, Del Carmen S, Cortes-Perez NG, et al. Lactobacillus casei BL23 regulates T and Th17 T-cell populations and reduces DMH-associated colorectal cancer. J Gastroenterol. Jan 9 2016.
  5. Li J, Sung CY, Lee N, et al. Probiotics modulated gut microbiota suppresses hepatocellular carcinoma growth in mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Feb 16 2016.
  6. Redman MG, Ward EJ, Phillips RS. The efficacy and safety of probiotics in people with cancer: a systematic review. Ann Oncol. Oct 2014;25(10):1919-1929.
  7. Aisu N, Tanimura S, Yamashita Y, et al. Impact of perioperative probiotic treatment for surgical site infections in patients with colorectal cancer. Exp Ther Med. Sep 2015;10(3):966-972.
  8. Yang Y, Xia Y, Chen H, et al. The effect of perioperative probiotics treatment for colorectal cancer: short-term outcomes of a randomized controlled trial. Oncotarget. Jan 27 2016.
  9. van Baarlen P, Troost F, van der Meer C, et al. Human mucosal in vivo transcriptome responses to three lactobacilli indicate how probiotics may modulate human cellular pathways. PNAS March 15, 2011 108 (Supplement 1) 4562-4569; published ahead of print September 7, 2010
  10. Bron PA, van Baarlen P, Kleerebezem M. Emerging molecular insights into the interaction between probiotics and the host intestinal mucosa. Nat Rev Microbiol. Jan 2012;10(1):66-78.
  11. Lakritz JR, Poutahidis T, Levkovich T, et al. Beneficial bacteria stimulate host immune cells to counteract dietary and genetic predisposition to mammary cancer in mice. Int J Cancer. Aug 1 2014;135(3):529-540.
  12. U.S. National Library of Medicine – Clinical Trials – Probiotics and Cancer.
  13. Lone Star Medical Group: Natural Alternative Treatments
  14. Doctors Beyond Medicine: Pre & Probiotics 

In this article


Scroll to Top