Probiotic As Defense Against Radiation Damage

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With the different treatments concerning cancer nowadays, still it is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality of different races all over the world. These include chemotherapy (with the use of chemotherapeutic agents or drugs that kills both unhealthy as well as healthy cells), radiation therapy (with the use of radiation, in either with the use of external beam or implantation of radioactive device), and surgery (which remains to be the oldest and yet the most effective one).

However, treatment regimens of cancer also post several untoward effects to patients undergoing such treatment. Dwelling into radiation therapy, research of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis revealed that in laboratory mice, it was found out that the intestine can be prevented by damage by having a probiotic (natural healthy bacteria that can be found in the intestines) before application of radiation therapy at the abdominal part.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or NCCAM, “the increasing health problem with regard to the excessive and exploited use of antibiotics has been bothering the government and health professionals because of the detrimental effects that it can actually bring.”

Radiation therapy is mostly used in patients suffering from cancer located abdominally, like cervical, ovarian, bladder, prostate, uterine, stomach, colon and the likes which in return can affect the organs located at the abdominal area too. Through the approach of radiation therapy is more concise than chemotherapy (which is actually systemic in approach), it is still inevitable to damage the surrounding parts of the target area.

Unfortunately, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and even pain can be side effects of this treatment especially when the intestinal walls are affected. When this happens, the radiation therapy should either be reduced or be withdrawn for the mean time to give way for the damaged intestine to be repaired or rather healed as suggested by senior investigator William F. Stenson, MD, the Dr. Nicholas V. Costrini Professor in Gastroenterology & Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Washington University.

The study on reducing or preventing damage of radiation therapy to patients receiving it, suggested that probiotic may be the solution to the problem as done to laboratory mice. It shows that the bacteria Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) have the highest better result in protecting the lining of the intestine.

On the other hand, it is emphasized that the probiotic should only be given before the radiation therapy should be applied. The main purpose of this is not for repair of intestinal damage, which was previously conducted in other study, but rather of protective and preventive defense against the intestinal damage as an effect of radiation. Additional good about this study is that the amount of the probiotic used in mice is just a small amount leading to not higher probiotic amount when applied to human trials. The suggestion of the human application of the study is still at work aiming for a better result to help cancer patients as well.




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