• 1 Faculty of Medicine, University of Cyberjaya, Cyberjaya, Selangor, Malaysia
  • 2 Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, Unaizah College of Pharmacy, Qassim University, Unaizah, Saudi Arabia
  • 3 Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Nutr Rev, 2021 Dec 08;80(1):22-49.
PMID: 34027974 DOI: 10.1093/nutrit/nuab006


CONTEXT: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Recently, much attention has been given to the microbiome and probiotics as preventive and therapeutic approaches to CRC and the mechanisms involved.

OBJECTIVES: To interpret the findings of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of probiotics relative to patients with CRC and to outline challenges of and future directions for using probiotics in the management and prevention of CRC.

DATA SOURCES: Web of Science, PubMed, ProQuest, Wile,y and Scopus databases were searched systematically from January 17-20, 2020, in accordance with PRISMA guidelines.

STUDY SELECTION: Primacy RCTs that reported the effects of administration to patients with CRC of a probiotic vs a placebo were eligible to be included.

DATA EXTRACTION: The studies were screened and selected independently by 2 authors on the basis of prespecified inclusion and exclusion criteria. The data extraction and risk-of-bias assessment were also performed independently by 2 authors.

RESULTS: A total of 23 RCTs were eligible for inclusion. Probiotics supplementation in patients with CRC improved their quality of life, enhanced gut microbiota diversity, reduced postoperative infection complications, and inhibited pro-inflammatory cytokine production. The use of certain probiotics in patients with CRC also reduced the side effects of chemotherapy, improved the outcomes of surgery, shortened hospital stays, and decreased the risk of death. Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus were the common probiotics used across all studies.

CONCLUSION: Probiotics have beneficial effects in patients with CRC regardless of the stage of cancer. There is an opportunity for probiotics to be used in mainstream health care as a therapy in the fight against CRC, especially in early stages; however, larger clinical trialsof selected or a cocktail of probiotics are needed to confirm the efficacy, dosage, and interactions with chemotherapeutics agents.


* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.