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February 2013

Probiotics May Reduce Post-Surgical Complications

A new study suggests that probiotics may reduce complications after colorectal cancer surgery.

Probiotics are similar to the microorganisms that are found in the human gut. Probiotics, also called "good bacteria," help to maintain the natural balance of organisms in the intestines. Probiotics are available to consumers mainly in the form of dietary supplements and foods. Examples of foods containing probiotics are yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, tempeh (soybean cake), some juices (black currant juices containing probiotic cultures) and soy beverages (soy milk).

Although several randomized controlled trials have been conducted, the available research on the use of probiotics for infection prevention is mixed.

In the recent study, 150 individuals with colorectal cancer were undergoing surgery. Half of the participants were randomly placed in a probiotics group, and the remaining participants were placed in a control group. The probiotics and placebo were given for six days before surgery and for ten days after surgery. Researchers assessed the severity of different complications post-surgery.

The probiotics group had significantly improved postoperative outcomes for infection, fever, length of antibiotic therapy and other complications. Further research on this topic is needed.

For more information about probiotics, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Liu ZH, Huang MJ, Zhang XW et al. The effects of perioperative probiotic treatment on serum zonulin concentration and subsequent postoperative infectious complications after colorectal cancer surgery: a double-center and double-blind randomized clinical trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Jan;97(1):117-26. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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