Role of yoghurt in the prevention of colon cancer

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Aug;56 Suppl 3:S65-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601490.


The beneficial effect of yoghurt consumption on health and on the improvement of the mucosal immune system is well established, as is the diet-associated risk of colon cancer. In an experimental model in BALB/c mice we demonstrated that yoghurt added to the diet for 10 consecutive days, with the procedure repeated each 10 days for 6 months, inhibited the development of a colorectal carcinoma induced by 1,2 dimethylhydrazine (DMH). The immunoregulatory mechanisms involved in the inhibition of tumour growth by yoghurt were also examined in these studies. We determined B lymphocytes IgA(+) and IgG(+), as well as CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in the large intestine. We measured cellular apoptosis and the cytokines TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma and IL-10. An increase in the number of IgA(+) (P<0.01) was observed, but not in IgG(+) (P<0.01), or in the CD4(+) population (P<0.01) in the mice treated with DMH and yoghurt. While in the group with the carcinogen there was an enhancement in the IgG(+) B cells (P<0.01) and CD8(+) T cells (P<0.01). Yoghurt increased the number of apoptotic cells and induced IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha cytokine release, their production being regulated by an increase in IL-10 (P<0.001). We demonstrated that yoghurt may exert antitumour activity by a decrease in the inflammatory immune response mediated by IgA(+) increase, apoptosis induction and IL-10 release.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A / biosynthesis
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Interleukin-10 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Yogurt* / microbiology


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Interleukin-10