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Gallstones Causes & Risks


The gallbladder stores bile. This fluid is produced in the liver and used in the small intestine to digest fat. Bile contains cholesterol, water, bilirubin, and bile salts.

Gallstones can form under the following conditions:

  • Too much absorption of bile salts from the bile
  • Too much absorption of water from the bile
  • Too much cholesterol in the bile
  • Inflammation of the lining of the gallbladder

Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing gallstones. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:

  • Age: older than 60 years old
  • Sex:
    • Women between 20-60 years old and
    • Women with high estrogen levels due to pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, or hormone replacement therapy
  • Obesity
  • Race: Pima Indians and other Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and Northern Europeans
  • Use of cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • Diabetes
  • Rapid weight loss and fasting
  • Previous gallstones
  • Diseases of the gallbladder and ducts
  • Blood diseases, including sickle cell anemia

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2024 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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