A support group for everything about chemotherapy, being treated and side effects. Tell others about your experiences and get answers to your questions.


Posted by
Can you take probiotics while you are having chemotherapy?

I'm having adjuvant chemo for rectal cancer. I started a course of 12 cycles in March. I was due to have six cycles, then liver surgery, then the remaining six cycles. After three cycles I was hospitalised with sepsis and my Hickman line was removed. The oncologist decided it was better to go ahead with the liver surgery as planned, and restart the chemo once I had recovered from that. I see him next week.

I have a complication which keeps getting infected and have had several courses of antibiotics (as well as IV ABs for the sepsis) this year to try and shift it. As you can imagine this has played havoc with my guts, and the toxic poo really hurts the skin around my stoma. The only thing which has kept it under control have been mega strength probiotic capsules. Unless the oncologist decides I need to have more surgery first, I face having to take ABs regularly. In addition, my four year old is starting school so I'm going to get lots of coughs and colds as he settles in. My GP says I will need to take ABs as soon as any infections appear.

When I had my first course of chemo last year, prior to surgery, the chemo nurses said we were to avoid probiotics and live yoghurt as our immune system wouldn't be able to cope with them. Yet I recall reading somewhere sensible, possibly the info on this site, that probiotics were a good idea to help you deal with the effects of chemo. I can't find the reference on this site, though, and can't think where else I found it.

Does anybody know where I can find out more about this? I will need to have references if I am to challenge the oncologist.
Posted by
I recall my dad being told to avoid anything with live bacteria in it including probiotic yoghurts, pates, cheeses etc. Poor guy was already on a restrictive diet due to losing both kidneys, so life was pretty from for him.

I'm sure others who are receiving chemo will be able to give you more information.
Posted by
When I had my chemo, no-one mentioned that we weren't supposed to be eating live yoghurt - so I did because I always do, and I was fine. We were told not to use swimming baths as presumably they pullullate with germs but as it turned out I was so fatigued I think I would have sunk without trace.
I'm sure that others will know more about the wisdom of probiotics, so I'm just wishing you all the very best for the rest of the treatment. xxxx Penny
Posted by
Sorry to put a downer on it but I was told to avoid probiotic yoghurts etc when I started chemo in March. I believed it was because altho it is "good" bacteria the lowering of the body's immunity during chemo also means it can't fight any bacteria - good or bad. I was also warned re bagged salads or those in restuarants. Do you have a Macmillan nurse to check with? If not why not email the question to the cancerbacup nurses. They are very good and it seems there are so many different types of chemo that you need to be sure whether it would be ok for you.

Lots of luck

Posted by
It was the chemo nurses at the hospital who said no live yoghurt. They said it the first time but not the second. I'm kind of hoping for a chance to carry on and eat them!
Posted by
my god i'm glad i read this ,i'm on chemo and just come out of hospital after contracting c hospital i was given actimel and other live yohgarts as they said it would help my gut now i'm not sure i've been eating them religiously i think i'd better check!
Posted by
I suspect that it really matters what cancer you are treating, which makes the chemo different. In other words, Chemotherapy is a generic term for ANY drug(s) used to treat cancer. So cancers are all different and vary and what the chemo you are being given and how is all different as well. For instance my husband is on daily thalidomide. That is his chemo. He has no restrictions of any kind in any way. However, when he goes for his stem cell transplant and they kill all his red/white blood cells and his immune system is shot all to hell and he will be severely restricted around "people" for 60 days, they may in fact have food restrictions. I hope this is helpful and I would ask and not be satisfied until you've had it explained to you in a way that makes sense to you. I have found that sometimes they will just say no, when they have no idea what they are talking about, to be on the safe side. Good luck.