Healthbeat

Statins may protect against gallstone disease

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Each year, 700,000 Americans have their gallbladders removed because of gallstone disease. Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may decrease the risk of disease and surgery which can follow.

The Journal of the American Medical Association has a study this week comparing patients who had their gallbladder removed and those who did not. The research also looked at who was taking statins at the time. The reason these medications may work in helping gallbladder disease is because cholesterol can play a role in the formation of stones.

"Statins actually act in the liver. In doing so they reduce cholesterol formation in the liver, and this transforms to lower blood levels of cholesterol but maybe also of lower levels in the gallbladder," said Dr. Michael Bodmer, University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland.

Around 20 percent of us will have gallstones sometime in our life. They form when some of the chemicals stored in the gallbladder harden into a mass. A high calorie, high fat diet can bring them on and rapid weight loss is a another factor in their formation.

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