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June 2009 Mayo Clinic Health Letter Highlights Probiotics, Carotid Artery and Breast Cancer Treatments
Date:7/7/2009

ROCHESTER, Minn., July 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Here are highlights from the June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. You may cite this publication as often as you wish. Reprinting is allowed for a fee. Mayo Clinic Health Letter attribution is required. Include the following subscription information as your editorial policies permit: Visit www.HealthLetter.MayoClinic.com or call toll-free for subscription information, 1-800-333-9037, extension 9771.

Probiotics: Bacteria That Offer Health Benefits

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Not all bacteria are bad. Human digestive tracts are loaded with trillions of bacteria that aren't harmful and can be beneficial or even crucial to health.

The June issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter delves into probiotics -- foods and supplements that contain so-called friendly bacteria and what's known about how they might benefit health.

Probiotics seem to change how the immune system reacts to invading microorganisms. They may compete with harmful bacteria or enhance the immune system. Also, they may help calm the immune system's overreaction in ways not fully understood. And they may help restore or maintain proper bacteria balance in the intestines, which can be upset by antibiotics or invading microorganisms.

Well-done studies suggest that probiotics are effective in treating and possibly preventing diarrhea, caused by antibiotics or certain infections, or that occurs during travel. Strains of lactobacillus and Saccharomyces boulardii seem to be the most effective bacteria to treat diarrhea.

The evidence is less conclusive in other areas, such as whether probiotics might reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome or prevent vaginal or bladder infections. But studies haven't shown any harm
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