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What are the Dangers of Using a Laxative for Weight Loss?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Taking laxatives to lose weight may seem to be a simple way to shed some extra pounds, but regular laxative use can be harmful for the body. Using a laxative for weight loss can lead to such problems a dehydration and nutrient deprivation. An individual who takes a laxative for weight loss may also grow dependent on it over time. It is even possible that a person will suffer damage to his internal organs after taking laxatives over an extended period of time. In fact, chronic laxative use can even increase a person’s risk of developing colon cancer.

When a person uses a laxative for weight loss, he may become dehydrated and lose electrolytes that are critical for his continuing health. Electrolytes are essentially salts that play a critical role in ensuring that the muscles, nerves, and brain continue to function normally. Dehydration and electrolyte loss are very serious, and in severe cases, have deadly consequences. A person suffering from dehydration and electrolyte loss may become lethargic; suffer from weakness or dizziness; faint; or have blurred vision. In a severe case, an individual may have seizures, suffer from kidney damage, or even die.

Many people are under the impression that taking laxatives will help them to get rid of most of the food they’ve eaten. In truth, however, a person who takes a laxative for weight loss will actually lose water, electrolytes, and minerals that are important for good health. Laxative use may also rid the body of wastes from the colon and fiber that could not be digested. Given the fact that laxative abuse can be so harmful to the body, many people may not find the chance to lose a small amount of water weight worth the risk.

Using laxatives regularly may also lead to dependency. Over a period of time of using laxatives this way, a person’s body may grow used to their effect. As such, muscles and processes that are critical for eliminating waste from the body may fail to perform as they should. The body may actually come to need the laxative to produce bowel movements regularly. In fact, an individual may need larger laxative doses than usual after a time.

It also is important to know that using a laxative for weight loss may also cause damage to a person’s internal organs. The colon, for example, may be stretched and lose its ability to function as normal, or it may become infected. After an extended period of laxative use, a person’s risk of colon cancer may increase. An individual may even suffer liver damage because of the extended use of laxatives.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By Muzahir Hussain — On Aug 19, 2010

I don't understand this article. Are you talking about taking artificial laxatives in terms of medicine or you are talking about natural laxatives. I'm sure it's not natural laxatives. Can you clear this up?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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