CHRONIC use of stimulant laxatives for constipation is harmful.
Many health care providers advise patients not to use stimulant laxatives long-term. This stems from concerns that chronic use can decrease normal colon function through detrimental effects on enteric nerve and smooth muscle. Other concerns include increased risk of cancer, tolerance, and addiction or abuse.
But experts are now questioning if these concerns are just myths.
The claim that chronic use of stimulant laxatives causes enteric nerve damage is not well-documented. Studies were uncontrolled and only observational in humans and animals. Some studies involved patients who used laxatives for longer than ten years at 18 times the recommended doses. There's no proof that stimulant laxatives at normal doses harm the colon.