ONC: Probiotics (2006)

Study Design:
- Click here for explanation of classification scheme.
Quality Rating:
Research Purpose:

This narrative review discussed:

  • the mechanisms of action probiotics have on the gut,
  • how intestinal inflammation changes in medical conditions such as acute gastroenteritis, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis, pelvic radiation therapy, and chemical exposure
  • probiotic treatment for these above stated conditions
  • important properties of probiotics and successful strains of probiotics
  • food and clinical applications for probiotics.


Inclusion Criteria:
Not identified.
Exclusion Criteria:
Not identified.
Description of Study Protocol:

Only the information pertaining to the probiotic use for pelvic radiation therapy will be included below.

5 studies were identified for this review with limited data provided. One study by Henriksson et al (1995) has been evaluated separated and will not be included in this review. All were clinical studies.

Salminen et al (1988 and 1995):

  •  Patients took a fermented milk containing live Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFB 1748

Haller & Kraubig (1960) and Mettler et al (1973):

  •   Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium (review does not include any information on the way this was applied to the patient, if both studies included both strains or not, etc.)


Data Collection Summary:

Data not provided in this review.

Description of Actual Data Sample:


No description of data sample was provided for any of the studies. 


Summary of Results:

In the randomized study by Salminen et al (1998), a significant decrease (no data or statistical information provided) in diarrhea was found in patients receiving radiation therapy who consumed fermented milk with live Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFB 1748. In a five-year follow-up study by Salminen et al (1995), there was a trend to less late serious intestinal complications.

Haller and Kraubig (1960) and Mettler et al (1973) concluded that Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium may have potential in controlling diarrhea and radiation-related side effects of the intestine.


Author Conclusion:

Further studies are needed in this area with:

  • each strain of probiotics documented and tested independently
  • well-defined study preparations
  • double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trials on humans
  • results confirmed by groups without conflict of interest
Funding Source:
University/Hospital: University of Turku (Finland), Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (Australia), University of Tampere (Finland)
Reviewer Comments:

This review does a nice job explaining the properties and mechanisms of probiotics in general. The data to support probiotic use for cancer therapy-related side effects is not sufficient from this review.

Quality Criteria Checklist: Review Articles
Relevance Questions
  1. Will the answer if true, have a direct bearing on the health of patients? Yes
  2. Is the outcome or topic something that patients/clients/population groups would care about? Yes
  3. Is the problem addressed in the review one that is relevant to dietetics practice? Yes
  4. Will the information, if true, require a change in practice? Yes
Validity Questions
  1. Was the question for the review clearly focused and appropriate? ???
  2. Was the search strategy used to locate relevant studies comprehensive? Were the databases searched and the search termsused described? No
  3. Were explicit methods used to select studies to include in the review? Were inclusion/exclusion criteria specified andappropriate? Wereselectionmethods unbiased? No
  4. Was there an appraisal of the quality and validity of studies included in the review? Were appraisal methodsspecified,appropriate, andreproducible? No
  5. Were specific treatments/interventions/exposures described? Were treatments similar enough to be combined? Yes
  6. Was the outcome of interest clearly indicated? Were other potential harms and benefits considered? Yes
  7. Were processes for data abstraction, synthesis, and analysis described? Were they applied consistently acrossstudies and groups? Was thereappropriate use of qualitative and/or quantitative synthesis? Was variation in findings among studies analyzed? Were heterogeneity issued considered? If data from studies were aggregated for meta-analysis, was the procedure described? No
  8. Are the results clearly presented in narrative and/or quantitative terms? If summary statistics are used, are levels ofsignificance and/or confidence intervals included? Yes
  9. Are conclusions supported by results with biases and limitations taken into consideration? Are limitations ofthe review identified anddiscussed? No
  10. Was bias due to the review's funding or sponsorship unlikely? ???