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Anthraquinone laxatives and human cancer: an association in one case.
  1. P. M. Patel,
  2. P. J. Selby,
  3. J. Deacon,
  4. C. Chilvers,
  5. T. J. McElwain
  1. Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey, UK.


    An 18 year old girl presented with a leiomyosarcoma of the small bowel with widespread dissemination. Despite short term remissions after chemotherapy and surgery she died of the disease 10 months later. A history of prolonged exposure to danthron (an anthraquinone laxative) in childhood was obtained. Anthraquinones are known to be mutagenic and may be carcinogenic in experimental systems but danthron is not a proven carcinogen in man. The association of danthron and a rare bowel cancer in one case cannot prove a causative link. However, collection of further data seems advisable.

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