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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2005 Dec;11(12):958-66.

Probiotics: facts and myths.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine and Medical Sciences, Arabian Gulf University, Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain.


In recent years there has been a significant upsurge in research on the characterisation and verification of the potential health benefits associated with the use of probiotics. In addition, the market for probiotics continues to expand exponentially as consumers (mostly healthy individuals) rely on health claims made by manufacturers to make their choices. This review appraises the available evidence for and against the health claims associated with probiotics. The use of probiotics in promoting gastrointestinal health and immunity, and their use in the prevention of urogenital infections, allergies and cancer are reviewed. Furthermore, issues surrounding the use of probiotics in healthy individuals, the safety of probiotics and regulatory concerns are addressed. There is scientific evidence that specific strains of probiotic microorganisms confer health benefits on the host and are safe for human use. However, this evidence cannot be extrapolated to other strains, as these effects are strain-specific. Probiotics have potential health benefits for conditions such as gastrointestinal infections, genitourinary infections, allergies and certain bowel disorders, all of which afflict a considerable proportion of the global population. However, considerable work is still needed to confirm these potential health benefits.

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