About 20 percent of Americans use laxatives. A new study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center suggests that they type of laxative that you use may be a factor in your chances of getting colon cancer. Their research suggests that fiver-based laxatives are associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Non-fiber laxatives are associated with a high risk of colon cancer.
Non-fiber laxatives are the most commonly used laxatives in the United States and work by making the colon contract. Fiber-based laxatives increase the water content and bulk of the stool in order to move it through the colon.
This study involved 75,000 adults who were between the ages of 50 and 76. The study found that those who used fiber-based laxatives at least four days per week for four years were 56 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer when compared to those who did not use them. It also showed that people who used non-fiber laxatives five or more times a year had a 49 percent higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. The researchers note that they did not find a link between constipation or frequency of bowel movements and colon cancer risk.
The theory of the researchers is that fiber-based laxatives may have the same effect as dietary fiber and help reduce colon cancer risk in many ways, such as encouraging the production of healthy bacteria in the colon and reduce the levels of cancer-causing agents in the stool.
Researchers of the study stress that more research is needed. They study could only show the correlation of laxative types and colon cancer risk and could not prove cause-and-effect.