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Probiotics are touted as good for the gut. They may be trouble for the immune system

Probiotics are wildly popular. After all, the microbial cocktails are available over the counter and have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses for some people.

But some scientists worry probiotics aren’t as innocuous as they seem — and might be affecting the way other medicines work in the body.

The latest cautionary note comes in the form of a preliminary study released Tuesday, in which researchers found that melanoma patients were 70 percent less likely to respond to cancer immunotherapy if they were also taking probiotic supplements. The study group was small — just 46 patients — but the findings support broader suggestions that probiotics might actually upset the balance of so-called “good” bacteria in the gut and interfere with the immune response.

The research was conducted by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in San Francisco.

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