Simple advice on the most common myths


Separating truth from speculation

When talking about constipation, you hear a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the use of laxatives. Here’s some advice on the most common myths.

A: Sometimes. Although some people find that eating lots of fibre rich foods helps prevent constipation, some people with severe constipation actually find it gets worse if the up their fibre intake. See what works for you.
A: That’s a myth. Don’t worry – experts say that constipation doesn’t cause a build-up of toxins in the body.
A: Sometimes. The Experts say that hormones only play a small part in constipation, but some women swear that the time of the month affects how often they go to the loo.
A: It’s unlikely that taking the recommended number of laxatives will do you any harm. Although some people with chronic constipation find that they need laxatives to be able to go most of the time, it’s not because they’ve become ‘dependent’ to them.
A: Myth. Some people misuse laxatives but they aren’t addictive.
A: Sometimes. Older people especially tend to find that being inactive can lead to getting constipated, or make it worse. There are usually other factors, too, though.
A: Myth. There’s no evidence that constipation directly leads to bowel cancer. However, an American scientific study has suggested the risk of bowel cancer is higher among people who suffer from chronic constipation. Researchers believe the connection is that when someone is constipated, the bowels are exposed to carcinogenic substances for longer.
A: True. Pregnancy hormones do seem to affect the speed that food and waste travels through the gut, slowing it down and sometimes leading to constipation.
A: Myth. There’s no evidence that constipation comes back as soon as you stop taking laxatives for constipation.
A: Myth. They are licensed for constipation and do not cause weight loss. Taking a laxative where there is no need for constipation relief will merely result in the loss of water, salts and nothing more. Please talk to your GP if you have any concerns regarding the use of laxatives.