I often arrive at work before my boss does. While I wait for him, I sit on a concrete wall. We would sit on this wall together during the summer, but now that it's cold, he says it will give me hemorrhoids.

Is he right?

Searching the internet has found a few mentions of a study done in Germany that say otherwise, but none link to learn more about it.

As far as questioning the notability of this subject, the best I can do is offer this Google auto-complete.

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    Hi, welcome to Skeptics. We address notable claims here, and I'm afraid that "someone told me" is not notable enough. Otherwise we would be deluged in trivial "I wonder" questions. Can you find anywhere that someone has said this publicly, or in a published form? skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/864/… – Paul Johnson Nov 8 at 18:13
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    @PaulJohnson Surprisingly, this IS notable. Here's WebMD: blogs.webmd.com/all-ears/2007/12/… – Carl Nov 8 at 18:22
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    That page describes it as a "myth"; at best it doesn't take a position on whether its true or not. To make this a notable claim you need to find someone definitely stating that it is true (the writers girlfriend's mother doesn't count). – Paul Johnson Nov 8 at 18:27
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    Hmm. Marginal. We do accept questions about things that are widely believed, and I guess if you have a doctor saying he keeps hearing this one then maybe it is. Please edit your post with the results of your research. – Paul Johnson Nov 8 at 18:36
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    There are various cultural concerns about sitting on something cold, e.g., cold ground, cold concrete, but it's usually associated with concerns about infertility. – De Novo Nov 8 at 19:08

Sitting on cold surfaces does not cause hemorrhoids. According to a study done in 2009:

Out of 38 possible aetiological factors 20 showed no significant bivariate correlation to TEH: gender, nationality, professions like employee, worker, housewife, and self-employed, the assumption to have haemorrhoids, previous anal surgery [23], diarrhoea [24-26], laxative use [25], hard bowels [24,26], straining at defaecation [10,24,25,27], sitting on cold surfaces [27], lifting a heavy load [24-28], coughing, sneezing [24,27], spicy meals [27,28], use of shower or wet wipes after defaecation [23], pregnancy [6,27,28], and current menses [28]. Since these variables were not significant, they were no longer traced throughout the remainder of the analyses.

For those interested:

The remaining 16 factors showed a significant bivariate relationship to TEH: age, careers as trainee, civil servant or retirement, participant in anoreceptive sex [27], engagement in excessive physical effort [29], engagement in sports [27,28], recent alcohol intake [27,28], frequency of bathtub use [23,30], frequency of shower use [23,31], frequency of genital cleaning before sleep [23,31], use of dry toilet paper after defaecation combined with wet cleaning [23,31], use of gels/soaps after defaecation [23,31], use of dry toilet paper only [23,31], and pregnancy [6,27,28].

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    Errr.... pregnancy listed in both categories? – DevSolar Nov 9 at 8:46
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    I reviewed that study as I was researching my answer. It is based on a survey of less than 100 people with hemorrhoids (and equal number of healthy people). This is way too small of a sample size, especially since they have 38 explanatory variables. So I guess the answer is we do not really know. – Bald Bear Nov 9 at 14:11

Sitting on a hard surface can cause or worsen hemorrhoids:
https://www.drdalemd.com/blog/2016/7/11/13-common-mistakes-that-can-aggravate-your-piles-or-hemorrhoids

Also, we have a quote from a medical journal:

Moderate general or local cooling of the body has a powerful action in increasing susceptibility to many infections

The paper goes on to say that local cooling causes "marked contraction of the blood vessels". Hemorrhoid is not an infection, but an swollen or over-inflated blood vessel, a bit like how a baloon "pops out" if you squeeze it. Hemorrhoids can be caused by increased blood pressure in blood vessels, typically while pooping, or during pregnancy.

The question is then whether constriction of blood vessels from cause can create enough pressure to cause a hemorrhoid. I doubt it is strong enough to so on its own, but maybe it could provide the last straw for somebody who is already likely to get them.

  • The cold causes contraction, and hemorrhoids are an expansion. Wouldn't the two effects be opposite? People do use cold compresses to relieve hemorrhoidal pain. – Carl Nov 8 at 23:26
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    The first quote is about treating existing haemorrhoids, not what causes them. The second quote is about infections, which haemorrhoids aren't. The final paragraph is speculation which is off-topic here. – Oddthinking Nov 9 at 0:35
  • @Oddthinking Yeah, I read the answer as "cold surfaces are probably worse than warm ones, if you're going to sit anyway" – Carl Nov 9 at 2:33

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