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Healthy Aging

Healthy Aging depends on maintaining a healthy digestive system aided by probiotics.

Probiotics May Decrease Chemotherapy-Induced Diarrhea

Our March newsletter was just issued this week, and it addresses some interesting research findings with regard to the anti-cancer effect of probiotics and the ability of probiotics to assist with decreasing chemotherapy-induced diarrhea. Excerpts from the article are as follows:

There have been a number of studies on probiotics protective effect against colon cancer (10). There are no direct experimental investigations for cancer suppression in human subjects using probiotics. However, there are a wealth of studies indicating indirect evidence for cancer suppression in human subjects. This study helps to identify one of the mechanisms how probiotics can prevent cancer development. Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to take a probiotic.

You may read the March newsletter in its entirety for more information about Probiotics’ Effects on Cancer and Chemotherapy.

Probiotics and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Studies of how and which types of probiotics improve IBS symptoms have yielded contradictory results. Some studies have shown that probiotics improve IBS, while others have resulted in less promising findings. This variance reflects, in part, differences in the studies, such as trial design, the limited number of participants, and the type, dose and formulation of the probiotics used in a particular study.

The term “probiotics” refers to the beneficial bacteria that are ingested to improve intestinal health. Some probiotic supplements contain just one bacterial strain whereas others have up to 8 different strains. It is reasonable that different studies will reach different conclusions, directly dependant upon the type of strains used. Similarly, the quantity of bacteria in each probiotic supplement can vary from a low of about one million to more than 400 billon organisms per dosage – and this too will also influence results.

In order to determine whether there is a statistical benefit of probiotics in easing the symptoms of IBS, researchers will review hundreds of studies and select those that have been done following specific guidelines for creditability.

The selected studies are then evaluated using a statistical method called meta-analysis. This involves combining all the studies and measuring the outcome for a specific issue. For example, there may be 20 studies evaluating the effects of probiotics on IBS. Some studies may have positive results and others negative. Combining all the results can give an overall statistical evaluation of whether probiotics are beneficial.

Meta-Analysis Reports

Over the last 18 months there have been four major meta-analysis reports published in respected medical journals (1,2,3,4).

All four meta-analysis studies concluded that probiotics benefit individuals suffering with IBS. They all found that probiotics could ease the symptoms of:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence
  • Improve the passage of stools

Only a few minor adverse side effects were reported, the most common being a temporary increase in abdominal bloating and flatulence.  No serious health or safety issues were identified.

The Conclusion: Probiotics are Promising

The general conclusion from these reports is that probiotics offer promise in the treatment of IBS.  Further studies of longer duration and use of specific strains and dosages of probiotics are needed to determine which probiotics are statistically better in treating IBS.

Because the drug therapies currently available to IBS sufferers have shown limited success, a trial of probiotics certainly seems worthwhile.

Take Home Message

Probiotics are helpful in treating the symptoms of IBS. Look for one that has at least 5 billon bacteria in a serving size and contains multiple strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria…like EndoMune.

Eat healthy, exercise and stay well!
Dr. Hoberman

 

(1) A systematic review and meta-analysis: probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.Hoveyda N, Heneghan C, Mahtani KR, Perera R, Roberts N, Glasziou P. BMC Gastroenterol. 2009 Feb 16;9:15.

(2) Meta-analysis of probiotics for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. McFarland LV, Dublin S. World J Gastroenterol. 2008 May 7;14(17):2650-61.

(3) The efficacy of probiotics in the therapy of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review.Moayyedi P, Ford AC, Talley NJ, Cremonini F, Foxx-Orenstein A, Brandt L, Quigley E. Gut. 2008 Dec 17

(4) Effectiveness of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Wilhelm SM, Brubaker CM, Varcak EA, Kale-Pradhan PB. Pharmacotherapy. 2008 Apr;28(4):496-505.

Probiotics and Post-Gastric Bypass Surgery Weight Loss

The July issue of the Journal of Gastroenterology discusses the recent findings of a post-gastric bypass surgery weightloss study. The physicians and researchers administering the study were interested in whether gastrointestinal bacteria and gut health plays an impact in the weight loss of individuals.

Both a control and a probiotic group were on the same counseling and diet regimen, with the probiotic group receiving 2.4 billion colonies of Lactobacillus daily.

At both 6-weeks and 3-months, the probiotic group had a statistically significant increase in weight loss over their counterparts in the control group. However, at 6-months, the significance had decreased.

With more research studies in the future, researchers may be able to determine if probiotics do have an impact on post-gastric bypass weight loss.

View the article at: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/706023

DNA Testing Provides Whole-Body Approach to Cancer Screening

The 2009 Digestive Disease Week in Chicago presented numerous findings with regard to the GI tract and associated diseases. Among those findings is the usefulness of DNA testing of stool samples for the presence of cancer.

Previously, stool DNA testing was used for the early detection of colorectal cancer; recently scientists and physicians have discovered this screening is also a useful source of detection for other cancers such as pancreas, stomach, bile ducts and esophagus. This is a tremendous shift from the single organ approach to screening of such cancers. DNA sampling provides a “whole-body” approach to screening for multiple cancers at one time, potentially paving the way for early detection of cancers previously not screened.

According to ABC News, “The test developed by Mayo Clinic researchers, which checked a patient’s stool for the DNA of cells regularly shed from the surface of several types of tumors, detected 65 percent of esophageal cancers, 62 percent of pancreatic cancers, 75 percent of bile duct and gallbladder cancers and 100 percent of stomach and colorectal cancers. The test was equally successful at detecting early-stage and late-stage cancers.”

The report goes on to note, “One in four cancer deaths are the result of gastrointestinal cancers, the news release notes. These cancers are quite curable if detected at an early stage, but the only one widely tested for is colorectal cancer, generally through colonoscopy.”

Research and news with regard to GI disease continues to move in a positive direction.

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