High BMI linked to gallstones, especially in women

Having a higher BMI could put you at risk for gallstone disease, according to a new study from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

Women, especially, may be more susceptible to the condition, the researchers found, after studying 77, 679 individuals from the general population.

Gallstone disease

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), gallstones are pebble-like material that can develop when there is excess cholesterol, bile salts or bilirubin in bile. It is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, and previous research has linked high BMI to increased risk of gallstone disease. The current study proves a causal relationship.

Using a Mendelian randomization approach – a method that incorporates genetic variation to determine the impact of risk factors as the cause of disease – the researchers found that 4,106 participants developed gallstone disease during the 34 years of follow-up tests conducted in the study.

Risk factors

The participants with gallstone disease were found mostly to be older, female and less physically active than individuals without the condition. Those with gallstone disease were also more likely to use hormone replacement therapy and drink less alcohol. When accounting for BMI, the risk for gallstone disease rose as BMI numbers increased, and women were shown to have a higher risk than men.

"Obesity is a known risk factor for gallstone disease, and our study suggests that elevated BMI likely contributes to the development of this disease," Dr. Anne Tybjærg-Hansen, lead study investigator, said in a press release.

Results of the study can be found in the journal Hepatology.

Source: Science Daily

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