Question

Digestive Health

Can chronic use of stimulant laxatives damage the colon?

A Answers (2)

  • Continuous daily use of stimulant laxatives can cause health problems such as low potassium, salt overload and a protein-losing disease, so they should be taken only as directed by your physician. However, chronic use of stimulant laxatives has not been proved to cause structural or functional damage to the colon or to cause colon cancer.
  • ABill Salt, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    The belief that stimulant laxatives can damage the colon is probably untrue. This is the conclusion drawn by Dr. Arnold Wald, a gastroenterologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who is an expert on constipation. Chronic use of laxatives is not harmful when they are used appropriately. Remember that most people with constipation can be adequately relieved with adequate dietary fiber intake. Osmotic laxatives can be used on a daily basis. If necessary for symptom relief, stimulant laxatives should be used no more often than two to three times weekly.
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