Can Laxatives Abuse Cause Cancer?

In the United States, Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the third highest cause of cancer death. In this page, we will discuss about whether or not consumption of various type of laxatives increase the risk of having CRC and other deadly list, one by one.

Can Laxatives Cause Colorectal Cancer?

Constipation and laxative use are suggested to increase CRC risk, but existing epidemiological studies have been inconclusive. A prospective study was done by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to examine the association between CRC incidents with constipation, non-fiber laxative use, and fiber laxative use among 75,214 participants. Findings from the study suggest that fiber laxatives lower risk of CRC but non-fiber laxatives increase CRC risk.

Based on the investigation, people who use fiber laxatives at least four days a week for four years were 56 percent less likely to develop CRC than those who didn’t use them. However, people who used non-fiber laxatives five or more times a year had a 49 percent increased risk for colorectal cancer. According to theory from the researchers, fiber-based laxatives may encourage growth of healthy bacteria in the colon, diluting cancer-causing agents in the stool, and decrease amount of time they contact with the colons.

Does Phenolphthale possibly cause cancer?

Phenolphthalein is active ingredient in many stimulant laxative brands, but is now being removed from over the counter laxatives because of concerns over carcinogenicity. Based on a Carcinogents Report from the National Toxicology Program, Department of Health and Human Services  in the United States, it was discovered that oral exposure to phenolphthalein caused tumors in mice and rats. However, the data available is insufficient to evaluate the relationship between human cancer and exposure specifically to phenolphthalein.

Do herbal laxatives cause Colon Cancer?

Herbal laxatives is popular laxatives over the counter but it was suspected to cause illness mentioned because it cause melanosis coli, dark pigmentation on colon due to anthraquinone compound in herbals. Most gastroenterologists consider the colour change to be harmless. Nevertheless, there are worries that the change in colon macrophage content and colon wall structure with persistent anthraquinone intake may possibly increase cancer risk.

Our Recommendation

In summary, individual should lower their risk of developing colorectal or other cancer by controlling their diet, emotion and exercise regularly. It is important to eat lots of food with high fiber, fruits, vegetable and drink at least eight glasses of water every day.  Avoid foods which are high in fat but low in fiber, like cheese and other dairy products, processed meats or foods.

If all attempts above have failed, always start with safest type of laxatives like bulk-forming agent laxative and stools softener before even think about osmotic or stimulant laxatives. Follow the dosage guideline printed on the product label and consult your health physician or doctors when in doubt. Never consume dosages beyond what is prescribed and use it over longer period than stated.