Key Risk Factors for Developing Gallstones
|Obesity is a risk factor for gallstones, especially among women. People who are obese are more likely to have gallstones than people who are at a healthy weight. Researchers have found that people who are obese may produce high levels of cholesterol. This leads to the production of bile containing more cholesterol than it can dissolve. John Pagan, MD, of Grand View Surgical Associates points out that as estrogen directly influences the production of gallstones, women of childbearing age are three times more likely to develop gallstones than men. Also, carrying fat around the midsection has been shown in some studies to put men and women at greater risk for developing gallstones than those who carry fat around their hips and thighs.
People who lose a large amount of weight quickly are at greater risk than those who lose weight at a slower pace. Rapid weight loss may also cause silent gallstones (painless gallstones)to become symptomatic. Studies have shown that people who lose more than three pounds per week may have a greater risk of developing gallstones than those who lose weight at slower rates.
People who are overweight are more likely to develop gallstones than people who are at a healthy weight. The risk for developing gallstones also increases with quick weight loss or a large weight loss. Gradual weight loss can lower the risk for obesity-related gallstones.
Your food choices can also affect your gallstone risk. Experts recommend including some fat in your diet to stimulate gallbladder contracting and emptying. Current recommendations indicate that 20 to 35 percent of your total calories should come from fat. Studies have also shown that diets high in fiber and calcium may reduce the risk of gallstone development. Finally, regular physical activity is related to a lower risk for gallstones. Aim for approximately 60 minutes of moderate-to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week to manage your bodyweight and prevent unhealthy weight gain. To sustain weight loss, engage in at least 60to 90minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity.
Weight cycling, or losing and regaining weight repeatedly, may increase the risk of developing gallstones. People who weight cycle—especially with losses and gains of more than10 pounds—have a higher risk for gallstones than people who lose weight and maintain their weight loss. Additionally, the more weight a person loses and regains during a cycle, the greater the risk of developing gallstones. Why weight cycling is a risk factor for gallstones is unclear.
You can take several measures to decrease the risk of developing gallstones during weight loss. Losing weight gradually, instead of losing a large amount of weight quickly, lowers your risk. Depending on your starting weight, experts recommend losing weight at the rate of one-half to two pounds per week.
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