What Causes Melanosis Coli and Is It Harmful

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which affects most people over the age of 50. About 10% of all new cases are due to sun exposure. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), sunlight causes about 90% of all cancers worldwide. However, it’s not just ultraviolet radiation from the sun that causes cancer; other factors such as smoking, diet, and even genetic predisposition contribute to its development.

The primary risk factor for developing melanoma is being exposed to UV radiation. Sunscreen products protect against harmful UV rays but they don’t completely prevent them.

For example, sunscreen doesn’t block all UVA rays or all UVB rays. These other wavelengths can still damage your cells if you’re not careful enough to wear protective clothing and equipment when outdoors. Even with these precautions, some people may still develop skin cancer from the sun exposure alone.

Sunlight is one of the main causes of skin cancer. Other factors include:

Exposure to certain chemicals, including those found in tanning beds and indoor tanning booths. Some chemicals have been shown to increase your chance of getting skin cancer.

Being overweight or obese. Being overweight increases your chances of developing skin cancer because fat cells produce hormones that promote cell growth and make your body more susceptible to damaging effects from UV radiation.

Lack of certain vitamins, such as beta carotene and antioxidants.

Genetics. If someone in your family has had skin cancer, you may have a higher chance of getting it as well.

The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and, of course, melanoma. The main difference between the three is the way they look under the microscope.

Melanomas are the most serious because they can spread to other parts of your body while the other two types seldom do that.

Treatment for each of these skin cancers varies based on several factors, including where you have it (i.e., arm, leg), how large the cancer is, whether it has spread, and your overall health.

Some treatments include:

Surgery – If the cancer is small enough, your doctor may choose to surgically remove it.

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy – If the cancer remains or returns, your doctor may use these other treatments to kill any cancer cells that may be present.

Immunotherapy – Your body’s immune system provides natural protection against disease. In some cases, injecting a virus into your body can boost your immune system to help fight skin cancer.

Targeted drug therapy – Skin cancers respond to certain medications that target specific types of cancer cells.

So, while sun exposure increases your risk of developing skin cancer, it can be easily treated if caught early. It’s best to practice sun safety for a lifetime to reduce your risk of all types of skin cancer.

The above was a summary of what causes melanosis coli and is not intended to educate you about all the factors that may cause this condition. Only a doctor can diagnose your condition after doing a full medical history and physical examination.

If you have questions, please contact your doctor.

2. What is the link between melanosis coli and colon cancer?

3. What are the things that cause ileocecal valve syndrome?

The ileocecal valve (or termination of the small and large intestines) plays a vital role in proper digestion. If this valve is blocked or malfunctions, it can cause a backup of your intestinal waste that leads to ileocecal valve syndrome.

Some of the causes of ileocecal valve syndrome include:

A physical abnormality in the ileocecal valve.

Nerve damage in the spinal column that controls the ileocecal valve.

Chronic constipation or diarrhea (both can cause pressure to build up and block the ileocecal valve).

A blockage of the colon that pushes waste upward and blocks the ileocecal valve.

Intestinal infections or diseases (such as Crohn’s disease) that can damage the ileocecal valve.

Some cases of ileocecal valve syndrome are caused by unknown reasons and there may not be an identifiable cause.

If you have any of these risk factors, make sure to contact your doctor so they can help you prevent this condition from occurring.

The above was a general overview of what ileocecal valve syndrome is and the link between it and colon cancer. Only a doctor can diagnose whether you have this condition or not.

If you think you have this condition, please seek medical attention.

4. What are some symptoms of ileocecal valve syndrome?

There are several signs and symptoms that someone may have ileocecal valve syndrome. These may include:

A bloated or full feeling in your abdomen.

Abdominal pain (on the right side of your stomach).


Trouble eating enough food at each meal (but still feeling hungry).

Nausea and vomiting.

If you have any of these symptoms, contact a doctor because they may be signs of ileocecal valve syndrome.

5. How is ileocecal valve syndrome diagnosed?

Your doctor will ask you to describe your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be performed.

Medical tests may include:

A CT scan of the abdomen to take a closer look at possible blockages in the colon or small intestines, tumors, or inflammation.

Blood tests to rule out other potential causes.

If your diagnosis is uncertain, your doctor may recommend an EGD.

6. What is an

EGD and how is it performed?

An EGD, also referred to as an upper GI series, is a medical test that consists of several X-rays of the upper part of the digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, & duodenum) after you have ingested a radiopaque dye. A radiopaque dye is a type of dye that shows up on X-rays. It’s usually safe to take and doesn’t cause any serious side effects. The procedure typically takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours, depending on your particular case. Before the procedure, your doctor will ask you to either remove all of your clothes from the chest down or change into a hospital gown. Then you will be taken to the X-ray room where you will lie on your left side and X-rays will be taken of your upper digestive tract. After the X-rays have been taken, you may eat and drink normally until the results are ready. These usually take about 1 or 2 days. It’s important that you do not eat anything 4 hours before the procedure and you do not consume anything but liquids for 8 hours following the procedure.

7. How is ileocecal valve syndrome treated?

The specific treatment of ileocecal valve syndrome will be determined by your doctor based on:

Your age, overall health, and medical history.

Extent of the disease.

Your symptoms.

Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies.

The expectations of your recovery.

Treatment may include:

Medicines (e.g., antibiotics, chemotherapy).

Surgery to remove all or part of the colon and rectum.

Colon resection with an ostomy may be needed in some cases.

8. What is a colostomy and why might I need one?

Sources & references used in this article:

Melanosis coli in inflammatory bowel disease by DS Pardi, WJ Tremaine, HJ Rothenberg… – Journal of clinical …, 1998 – journals.lww.com

Melanosis coli by ST Kew – IeJSME, 2012 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org

Melanosis coli is associated with an increase in colonic epithelial apoptosis and not with laxative use by RJ Byers, P Marsh, D Parkinson, NY Haboubi – Histopathology, 1997 – Wiley Online Library

Anthranoid self-medication causing rapid development of melanosis coli by M Willems, H van Buuren, R de Krijger – The Netherlands Journal of …, 2003 – repub.eur.nl

Herbal remedies are the main etiologic factor in melanosis coli, a case series study by T Kav, Y Bayraktar – Open Medicine, 2010 – degruyter.com

Melanosis Coli by Z Nesheiwat, Y Al Nasser – StatPearls [Internet], 2020 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov