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Gallstones - What Increases Your Risk

Your chances of forming gallstones that can cause symptoms may be higher if you:

  • Are female. Females are twice as likely as males to have gallstones.
  • Are older than 55.
  • Are overweight.
  • Lose weight rapidly. Gallstones develop in about one-fourth of very overweight men and women who are on strict diets and in about half of people who have gastric bypass surgery for obesity. Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach and connects the smaller stomach to the middle section of the small intestine.
  • Have low levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL or high-density lipoprotein) and elevated triglycerides, which are a type of fat found in the blood and in foods.
  • Have a disease of the small or large intestine, such as Crohn's disease.
  • Have a family history of gallstones.
  • Are pregnant.
  • Are taking estrogen (after menopause) or high-dose birth control pills.
  • Are Native American or Hispanic.
  • Have sickle cell disease.
  • Are taking certain medicines. Ask your doctor if your medicine may be causing your gallstones.
  • Have cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).
  • Get very little or no exercise.
  • Do not eat for a period of time (fast).
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 15, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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