Probiotics boost the immune system of smokers
Smokers are prone to respiratory diseases. This is due, among other things, to an altered activity of the "natural killer cells" in smokers. These immunologically active cells play an important role in the defense against tumor cells and viral infections. A Japanese-Italian research group has now been able to show that a probiotic intervention with Lactobacillus casei has a positive effect on the impaired activity of the killer cells in smokers.
For the study, researchers recruited 73 healthy smokers and administered either a probiotic (Lactobacillus casei, 40 billion CFU) or a placebo supplement over a period of 3 weeks. After the 3 weeks, a significant increase in natural killer cell activity from 17% to 26% was observed in the probiotic group - the increase in the placebo group was only from 8.4% to 10.5%.
In addition, taking probiotics reduced the feeling of nausea and stomach pain. However, the exact direct and indirect mechanisms behind the positive effect on the upper digestive system would have to be clarified in further studies. According to the research team, regular probiotic support could increase killer cell activity in smokers, boosting their health and immunity.
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- Reale M et al .: Daily intake of Lactobacillus casei Shirota increases natural killer cell activity in smokers. Br J Nutr. 2011 Dec 6: 1-7