Rabu, 27 Februari 2008

Probiotic Dietary Supplement Not Always Beneficial

Probiotics are dietary supplements containing beneficial yeasts or bacteria. Available over-the-counter, probiotics are sometimes recommended by nutritionists and doctors as a way to re-establish the body's natural digestive flora after a course of antibiotics. They're supposed to be good for you.

However, a research group testing the hypothesis that probiotics are beneficial in preventing the infectious complications of a specific life-threatening disease (acute pancreatitis) actually found just the opposite. In a carefully designed double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 298 patients at high risk for acute pancreatitis, the patients given a probiotic preparation had a higher death rate (16%) than the controls (6%).

The finding, although startling, should not be used to conclude that probiotics are a bad idea under other circumstances. Obviously we need to know a lot more about probiotics and how they might affect the outcome of specific diseases before we can draw more general conclusions. But for now at least, probiotics should not be given to in patients at high risk for acute pancreatitis.

The original article can be found in the online version of The Lancet (DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(08)60207-X).

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