February 17, 2009

Trendy colon cleaners may do harm

Listen to any number of media ads and one might assume it is necessary for pills or powders to clean a colon, but a U.S. expert says they may do more harm.

The lining of the gut regenerates about every seven days, so you probably don't need colon cleansers, Dr. Anne Larson, associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said in a statement.

Not only are colon cleansers unnecessary, they could unbalance the body's fluids and lead to dehydration, salt depletion and low blood pressure, Larson added.

Long-term dangers include anemia, malnutrition, heart failure and damaging the colon wall, while using unclean enema equipment could lead to infection, Larson said.

Worried about a buildup of toxins because of constipation?

Stick with what's proved to be safe, Larson advised. Drink plenty of water and eat food high in fiber such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.