Probiotic bacteria are live microbial food ingredients that provide a health benefit to the consumer. In the past it was suggested that they served to benefit the host primarily through the prevention of intestinal infections. More recent studies have implicated probiotic bacteria in a number of other beneficial effects within the host including: *The suppression of allergies. *Control of blood cholesterol levels. *Modulation of immune function. *And the prevention of cancers of the colon. The reputed anti-carcinogenic effect of probiotics arises from in vivo studies in both animals and to a limited extent in man; this evidence is supported by in vitro studies with carcinoma cell lines and anti-mutagenicity assays. However, the mechanisms involved in any effect have thus far been difficult to elucidate; studies offer evidence for a variety of mechanisms; we have reviewed these and come to the opinion that, the anti-carcinogenic effect may not be attributable to a single mechanism but rather to a combination of events not yet fully elucidated or understood.