Chronic Constipation May Increase the Risk of Colon Cancer
Although constipation is not considered a serious health condition, it should be treated on time because if left untreated, chronic constipation can increase the risk of developing colon cancer and benign neoplasm.
A benign neoplasm is an abnormal growth of cells that divide and reproduce independently of the surrounding normal tissue – but it’s not cancerous.
In a study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology’s (ACG) 77th Annual Scientific meeting in Las Vegas, researchers found that both colon cancer (colorectal cancer) and benign neoplasm are more prevalent in chronic constipation (CC) patients compared to control populations without chronic constipation.
The study investigated the prevalence and incidence of colon cancer and benign neoplasm in 28,854 patients with chronic constipation and 86,562 controls without chronic constipation that were identified from a large retrospective US claims database (January 1999-September 2011).
Patients with at least two diagnoses of constipation were required to be 18 years or older and continuously enrolled in their health plan for at least one year following the study index date, which was the patient’s first eligible diagnosis of constipation. Patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or diarrhea were excluded.
The result showed that among patients that were not previously diagnosed with colon cancer or benign neoplasm prior to their index date, and after controlling for potential confounding factors including age, gender, family history of malignancies, and other non-gastrointestinal comorbidities, patients with chronic constipation were more at risk for developing colon cancer or benign neoplasm.
The risk of developing colon cancer was 1.78 times higher and the risk of developing benign neoplasm was 2.70 times higher.
“This study demonstrates an association, not causation, between chronic constipation and both colon cancer and benign neoplasms” said co-investigator Nicholas Talley, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Newcastle.
“Although chronic constipation is considered a relatively benign disease, practitioners should be aware of this potential association to monitor and treat accordingly.”
He also noted that further research is needed to evaluate whether patients who have their constipation well controlled are at lower risk of developing colon cancer and benign neoplasm.