Systematic Reviews (2020-01-01)

Association between anthraquinone laxatives and colorectal cancer: protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Niccolò Lombardi,
  • Alessandra Bettiol,
  • Giada Crescioli,
  • Valentina Maggini,
  • Eugenia Gallo,
  • Francesco Sivelli,
  • Francesco Sofi,
  • Gian Franco Gensini,
  • Alfredo Vannacci,
  • Fabio Firenzuoli

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 1
pp. 1 – 6


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Abstract Introduction Products containing anthraquinones (AQ) are mainly used as laxatives and have several biological effects. Long-term use of AQ laxatives is associated with an increased risk of serious adverse events (AEs), such as colorectal cancer (CRC). We will systematically synthesize the evidence on the potential association between the use of AQ laxatives and the risk of CRC. Methods and analysis We will search MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, the Cochrane Library, Google Scholar, and To avoid missing any relevant studies, we will search the bibliographies of retrieved papers and recent reviews in the field. Interventions will include products containing oral AQ laxatives, in particular, those derived from rhubarb, senna, cascara, buckhorn, and aloe. Two review authors will independently screen title, abstract, and full texts and will independently extract data from included studies. The primary outcome is the number of participants diagnosed with CRC, while the secondary outcome will be cases of melanosis coli. We will also consider all other AEs reported in the included studies, in particular, intestinal bleeding, alterations of gastrointestinal motility, and potential for dependence. When possible and appropriate, for each outcome, a meta-analysis will be performed. Discussion This protocol is prepared in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols guidelines. The protocol gives an insight into the scope and parameters for the systematic review to be carried out. Systematic review registration PROSPERO CRD42019125414