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Colon cleansing might seem appealing as a way of getting rid of toxins from the body. However, you could be getting rid of more than just those toxins and your money–you could also be putting your health at risk–at least that’s according to one recent study that points to the dangerous side effects of colon cleanses.

The theory behind colon cleansing is that it helps to rid the body of food that allegedly gets trapped inside of the colon and rots, causing the release of toxins into the body. Although this theory was proven untrue in the early 20th century, some still swear by the practice. Nevertheless, researchers from Georgetown University Medical School looked at 20 recent studies conducted on the effectiveness of colon cleanses and found little evidence to suggest that they actually worked. They did find that there were some serious side effects to the practice, including renal failure and death. In addition, less serious side effects included vomiting, bloating, cramping, and electrolyte imbalances.

Now that people are more worried about the potential effects of pesticides and chemicals in food and in the environment, colon cleansing is picking up more steam as a method of purification. Plus, with a litany of claims that an intoxicated colon can lead to sexual dysfunction, asthma, and obesity, among other maladies, there are more people willing to try the many colon cleansing regimens available. For example, some colon cleanses involve inserting a rubber tube into the anus and pumping up to 60 liters of fluid into the body, which is known as "hydrotherapy". Other colon cleanses are more do-it-yourself oriented and involve herbal concoctions. Overall, colon cleanses are not FDA-regulated and can cause serious side effects that make them more harmful than helpful. Doctors urge people to steer clear of this gross and dangerous habit that accomplishes few, if any, of its health benefit claims.

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