Are probiotics really safe?

Probiotic drugs may not be as healthy as previously thought.

Probiotics may not be as safe as believed, according to Health Line. Probiotics are usually known as “friendly bacteria.” They are found in certain foods and supplements, and these live microorganisms are similar to the beneficial microbes that naturally colonize the human body.

Yogurt and other probiotic products have actually existed for millennia, and the market is rapidly growing for probiotic supplements and commercially produced probiotic foods.

It is interesting to note that many of these products also contain prebiotics, or ingredients that promote the growth or activity of beneficial microbes. Synbiotics contain both probiotic and prebiotic components.

Proponents of probiotic and prebiotic products often suggest that they can help prevent or help contain a large amount of health problems, from irritable bowel syndrome to yeast infections and more.

Dr. Shira Doron, an associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and attending physician at Tufts Medical Center, has helped to conduct multiple studies on probiotic products.

She was not surprised by one study’s findings. “This was a well-done, systematic review demonstrating something that those of us who do research in the field already know:  that the vast majority of published studies do not adequately evaluate the safety of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics,” Doron said.

“The biggest issue is that without that data, the FDA has been reluctant to allow government-funded clinical trials,” she added.

This means that most research on probiotics is done overseas or is funded by manufacturers of probiotic products.  When research is conducted in other countries, it raises questions and concerns “over the ability to extrapolate results to U.S. patients,” Doron said.

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