Chronic constipation may up risk of colorectal cancer

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2012, 21:29 PM IST

Washington: People with chronic constipation may be at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, a new study has claimed.

In a study presented at the American College of Gastroenterology`s (ACG) 77th Annual Scientific meeting in Las Vegas, researchers claimed that both colorectal cancer (CRC) and benign neoplasms are more prevalent in chronic constipation patients compared to a control population free from chronic constipation.

A benign neoplasm is an abnormal growth or tumour consisting of cells that divide and reproduce independently of the surrounding normal tissue.

The study investigated the prevalence and incidence of colorectal cancer and benign neoplasms in 28,854 patients with chronic constipation (CC) and 86,562 controls without CC that were identified from a large retrospective US claims database (January 1999-September 2011).

Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon`s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry.

Among the patients that were not previously diagnosed with CRC or benign neoplasms patients with CC were more at risk to develop colorectal cancer or benign neoplasms.

The risk of developing colorectal cancer was 1.78 times higher for chronic constipation (CC) patients and the risk of developing benign neoplasms was 2.70 times higher.

After adjusting for potential confounding factors, which are potentially also associated with the CC conditions, the incremental risk of developing colorectal cancer and benign neoplasms remained "consistently high".

"In this study, patients with chronic constipation were found to be at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer and benign neoplasms," said co-investigator Nicholas Talley, 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," Talley said in a statement.

He also noted that further research is warranted to evaluate whether patients who have their constipation well controlled are at lower risk of developing CRC and benign neoplasms.