Popular Probiotic Flunks a Test

Can Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), the bacteria found in Culturelle and many other probiotics, help curb the diarrhea and vomiting that doctors call acute gastroenteritis?

Researchers randomly assigned 943 preschool children and infants who were diagnosed with acute gastroenteritis at emergency rooms to take either a placebo or LGG (10 billion colony-forming units) twice a day for five days.

After two weeks, the probiotic takers had no less diarrhea or vomiting than the children who got the placebo. It’s not clear if the results apply to adults.

What to do: Interested in probiotics? Keep in mind that few large clinical trials like these have tested their claims. As for LGG, in smaller trials, either LGG or Saccharomyces boulardii (a yeast found in supplements like Florastor) reduced the risk of diarrhea linked to antibiotics in children.

N. Engl. J. Med. 379: 2002, 2076, 2018. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 12: CD004827, 2015.

Which Comes First?

Does order matter when you add two foods to a bowl?

Researchers told 90 college students to add yogurt, then muesli, to a bowl on one occasion, and to add muesli, then yogurt, on another. On average, the students added more muesli—or yogurt—when they added it first.

What to do: When you fill a bowl, start with the ingredient you want to eat more of.

Appetite 2018. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.11.010.

Prostate Cancer & Exercise

Vigorous exercise may lower the risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer.

Researchers tracked more than 49,000 men aged 40 to 75 for 26 years. Those who reported doing the most vigorous exercise had a 30 percent lower risk of advanced prostate cancer and a 25 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer than men who did the least. The “most” group did the equivalent of 25 minutes a day of running.

What’s more, men who did the most vigorous exercise had a 29 percent lower risk of having tumors with a fusion of two genes—TMPRSS2 and ERG—than those who did the least. That could help researchers figure out how exercise might protect the prostate.

What to do: If you can, jog, run, bicycle, swim laps, row, climb stairs, do calisthenics, or play tennis, squash, or racquetball. This study can’t prove that vigorous activities like those lower the risk of advanced or lethal prostate cancer, but they can keep your heart in shape.

Eur. Urol. 2018. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2018.09.041.

Waist or Weight?

A woman’s waist may better predict her risk of type 2 diabetes than her weight.

Researchers tracked roughly 136,000 postmenopausal women for nearly 15 years. Waist size predicted diabetes risk even better than weight. Women with a waist between 31 and 35 inches had a 59 percent higher risk than those with a smaller waist. A woman with a waist over 35 inches had three times the risk compared to a woman with a waist under 31 inches.

A large waist was even worse for women with Asian ancestry. Their risks were roughly 2½ times higher in the 31-to-35-inch range and nearly 4½ times higher if over 35 inches.

What to do: Keep tabs on your waist, not just your weight.

Diabetes Care 2018. doi:10.2337/dc18-1413.

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