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Leading probiotics researcher slams vaginosis study

By Shane Starling , 22-Oct-2009
Last updated the 22-Oct-2009 at 15:40 GMT

Probiotics pioneer, Professor Gregor Reid, has criticised a Cochrane review of science that questioned the ability of probiotic treatments to battle bacterial vaginosis (BV), for including combinations of strains that have never demonstrated probiotic effects – vaginal or otherwise.

Professor Reid questioned the value of two of the studies that referred to women who had turned to probiotic treatments after becoming disillusioned with antibiotics, for not being given “true probiotics” with clinically proven health benefits.

NutraIngredients coverage of the study can be found here .

Probiotic definitions

“So, if a product is called 'probiotic', even without evidence that it works, the authors included it,” said Professor Reid, from the Canadian R&D Centre for Probiotics at the Lawson Health Research Institute, and The University of Western Ontario.

“For example, the so-called 'probiotic' used in the tampon study has never been shown to confer health benefits for women, as far as I know.”

Professor Reid added: “I find it hard to believe this paper was ever accepted. If the intent is to advice women not to try probiotics for management of BV because of the interpretation of two papers, which the publicity from this Cochrane review might do, then I feel this is a very unfortunate outcome.”

“With increasing antibiotic failure rates, frequent recurrences that plague women and impact their quality of life, it seems the emphasis of this 'review' should be to have women consider the use of probiotics to reduce antibiotic side effects and potentially help cure the condition and prevent recurrences.”

“Simply concluding ‘No probiotics treat BV’ might make women more despondent given that no new pharmaceutical treatment has been developed for many years nor are any new ones on the horizon. As for more studies being needed, nobody should disagree with this conclusion.”

Some of Professor Reid’s fears are already being played out as the study has been picked by the UK National Health Service, which said it supported its findings.

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