Probiotics in preventing and treating chemotherapy-induced diarrhea: a meta-analysis

Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2019;28(4):701-710. doi: 10.6133/apjcn.201912_28(4).0005.


Background and objectives: To systematically assess the safety and effectiveness of probiotics in preventing and treating chemotherapy-induced diarrhea (CID), so as to provide the evidence-based evidence for clinical practice.

Methods and study design: Electronic databases, including EMbase, Cochrane Library, pubMed, CNKI, VIP, CBM, and Wanfang databases, were retrieved to search for the randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of CIDs among patients with malignant tumors treated with probiotics as of March 2019. Later, the Rev Man 5.3 statistical software was employed to extract data and assess the quality of the identified literature for metaanalysis.

Results: Finally, 13 RCTs involving a total of 1024 patients were included into the current metaanalysis. Results of this meta-analysis showed that the addition of probiotics to conventional symptomatic treatment could evidently reduce the total diarrhea rate in patients with cancer [RR=0.47, 95% CI (0.35, 0.63), p<0.00001] and grade III-IV diarrhea [RR=0.16, 95% CI (0.05, 0.42), p=0.0008], increase the total effective rate [OR=4.26, 95% CI (2.55, 7.12), p<0.00001], and shorten the duration of diarrhea [MD=-1.92, 95% CI (-1.96, - 1.88), p<0.00001]; meanwhile, the difference was statistically significant. But in patients with grade I-II diarrhea [RR=0.81, 95% CI (0.53, 1.24), p=0.34], the difference was not statistically significant. Besides, none of the enrolled study had reported adverse reactions.

Conclusions: The application of probiotics before or during chemotherapy can effectively prevent the occurrence of CID among cancer patients. Moreover, the combination of probiotics in treating CID can also improve the therapeutic effect on CID, with less adverse events.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents