Probiotics and cancer: from in vitro to human studies
Rowland, I. R. (2008) Probiotics and cancer: from in vitro to human studies. International Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics, 3 (3). pp. 165-168. ISSN 1555-1431
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Studies in cell cultures and animal models provide evidence that probiotics can beneficially influence various stages in development of colon cancer including tumor initiation, promotion and metastasis. For example, oral administration of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains can prevent genotoxic damage to the colonic epithelium (considered to be an early stage of the carcinogenic process). Administration to rats of probiotics reduced the incidence of carcinogen-induced pre-cancerous lesions (aberrant crypt foci) in the colon. Furthermore a combination of Bifidobacterium longum and inulin (a prebiotic) was more effective than either treatment alone. In this latter study, the dietary treatments were given after exposure to the carcinogen, which suggests that the protective effects were being exerted at the promotional phase of carcinogenesis. L. acidophilus feeding has been shown to decrease the incidence of colon tumors in rats challenged with a carcinogen and B. longum reduced the incidence of carcinogeninduced colon, liver and mammary tumors. There is limited evidence from epidemiological studies for protective effects of products containing probiotics in humans, but a number of recent dietary intervention studies in healthy subjects and in polyp and cancer patients have yielded promising results on the basis of biomarkers of cancer risk and grade of colorectal tumors.