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lallieth

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Probiotics may be fatal in pancreatitis: study
Thu. Feb. 14 2008

"Good" bacteria commonly found in probiotic yogurts and drinks may be fatal for people with severe cases of pancreatitis, new research suggests.

Probiotics are so-called "good bacteria" that live in the intestines and help digestion and immune system function. The live microorganisms are found naturally in many fermented food including yogurt, and are often added to certain foods, such as cheese, milk and even baby food.

It had been thought that adding probiotics to the diets of those suffering from pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that is largely due to gallstones or heavy alcohol use, would help to restore the function of the organ.

But a new study from the Netherlands finds that those with severe forms of the disease given probiotics were more than twice as likely to die as those given placebos.

The Dutch researchers looked at almost 300 patients with first episodes of acute pancreatitis who were at risk for severe disease. Patients received either placebo or a combination of Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacterium species for 28 days.

After three months, 24 volunteers in the probiotic group had died compared to nine in the placebo group, the researchers report in a study in The Lancet medical journal.

"The adverse effects of probiotics noted here were unexpected," Hein Gooszen and colleagues at the University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands wrote. "Several studies have associated probiotics with a reduction in infectious pancreatitis."

The team said it did not know exactly why probiotics may be harmful but speculated that the increased oxygen demands of the live bacteria may worsen already reduced blood flow in very ill patients.

Gooszen's team concludes that probiotics can no longer be considered harmless and should not be given to severely ill patients with organ failure and on a feeding tube.
 

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