Emerging Roles of Probiotics in Prevention and Treatment of Breast Cancer: A Comprehensive Review of Their Therapeutic Potential

Nutr Cancer. 2019;71(1):1-12. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2018.1557221. Epub 2019 Jan 26.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. Need for novel preventive and curative approaches with more safety than the present one seems inevitable. This review is devoted to potentially favorable role of probiotics in prevention and treatment of breast cancer as well as their alleviating role regarding chemotherapy-induced side effects. Literature was searched for human, animal, and in vitro studies about the role of probiotics in breast cancer. In vitro studies showed that probiotic intervention induces cancer cells apoptosis and inhibits their proliferation. In animal models, treatment with probiotics inhibited tumor growth and reduced tumor size; also, the immunomodulatory, antiangiogenesis and antimetastatic activities of probiotics were illustrated. Human studies showed that intake of Lactobacillus casei shirota reduced the breast cancer incidence and consumption of fermented milk products and yogurt was inversely associated with breast cancer incidence; however, no study regarding the curative role of probiotics in breast cancer is available. Studies on the effect of probiotics on chemotherapy-induced side effects in breast cancer were contradictory but showed potential for more investigation. Probiotics seem to have a potential role in both prevention and treatment of breast cancer. However, more clinical studies are needed to elucidate their efficacy and safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / immunology
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Cytokines / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lacticaseibacillus casei
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytokines