CancerDiarrhea/ConstipationFiberPre, Pro, Synbiotics

Using a probiotic to reduce 5-FU related diarrhea

Fluorouracil (5-FU) is a drug that’s been used to treat cancer for about 40 years.

Researchers from Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland tested the value of a probiotic (Lactobacillus) and fiber supplementation on 5-FU side effects.

First, the details.

  • 150 patients with colorectal cancer were randomly assigned to 2 different treatments using 5-FU and leucovorin injections (a commonly used combination of drugs) for 24 weeks.
  • The treatments are known as the “simplified de Gramont regimen” and the “Mayo regimen.”
  • They were also randomly assigned to Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG supplementation or fiber during chemotherapy.

And, the results.

  • Patients who received Lactobacillus had significantly less severe diarrhea.
  • They also reported less abdominal discomfort, needed less hospital care, and had fewer chemotherapy dose reductions.
  • No Lactobacillus-related toxicity was detected.
  • Fiber supplementation had no influence on chemotherapy tolerability.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded that the probiotic treatment, Lactobacillus, “may be a practical and well-tolerated means to reduce the severity of 5-FU-based chemotherapy-induced diarrhea.”

Way to go!

11/18/07 11:47 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.