A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop gallstones with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing gallstones. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
Men older than the age of 60 and women between the ages of 20 and 60 are at increased risk of developing gallstones. Pregnant women are more likely to have gallstones with symptoms.
Genetic factors play a role in gallstone disease. There is an increased risk of gallstones among first-degree relatives.
Gallstones are common in the following groups:
Native Americans, especially Pima Indians, who have the highest rate of gallstones in the United StatesMexican AmericansNorthern Europeans
A number of drugs are associated with gallstones. The most common are:
Oral contraceptivesHormone replacement therapy—in postmenopausal womenCholesterol-lowering drugs—fibratesCeftriaxoneOctreotideSomastatinThiazide diuretics Total parenteral nutrition
The following dietary changes increase the risk of developing gallstones:
Rapid weight loss; which causes the liver to secrete extra cholesterol into the bileFasting; which decreases gallbladder movement, causing bile to become overly concentrated with cholesterolHigher intake of trans-fatty acidsHigh-dietary glycemic index or glycemic load
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Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
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.
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