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Coffee and Caffeine Effectively Reduces Gallstone Risks Research Shows

Coffee is among the most loved drinks of all time but not just for its aromatic fumes but also for its incredibly innumerable benefits. Coffee is known to reduce the risks of anyone ever getting gallstones. As a matter of fact, it is a drink that is proven by science to keep your gallbladder healthy. Care to know more? Let’s read more!

gallstone risks with stones already in the gallstone by the liver near the stomach

Recent study shows coffee may reduce gallstone risks

Of the many good things that coffee is known for, here is another reason to love coffee: it can help you avoid gallstones! Yes, this is based on a recent study in Denmark conducted by Dr. A. Tybjaerg-Hansen and her team and the result was published by The Journal of Internal Medicine on September 5th 2019.

Based on the journal, the methodology of the study is as follows:
“First, we tested whether high coffee intake was associated with low risk of gallstone disease in 104,493 individuals from the general population,” they explained.

“Secondly, we tested whether two genetic variants near CYP1A1/A2 (rs2472297) and AHR (rs4410790) genes, combined as an allele score, were associated with higher coffee intake measured as a continuous variable.”
“Thirdly, we tested whether the allele score was associated with a lower risk of gallstone disease in 114,220 individuals, including 7,294 gallstone events.”

According to the results of the study, people who drink more than 6 cups of the precious brown liquid per day saw their gallstone risk drop by 23%. For those who consumed 3 to 6 cups daily, the risk is reduced by 17%, while study participants who drank just one cup of coffee a day saw the risk of gallstones reduced by about 3%. The study tracked more than a hundred thousand Danes over 8 years and came up with this conclusion.

coffee beans arranged to a heart with a cup of coffee hugged by a stethoscope

A genetic technique called Mendelian randomization was used by taking advantage of the randomized distribution of genetic variants in the population. The researchers found that for each additional cup of coffee per day, there is an 11% reduction in gallstone risk for people with two genetic variants known to be associated with caffeine intake. By using Mendelian randomization, a natural randomized study was created and made it more likely that the association is causal. According to the senior author of the study, there is a direct relationship between the increase in obese clients and the incidence and problems with gallstones.

Gallstones are hard, pebble-like material that builds up in the gall bladder. These formed materials can be dangerous because it may lead to a blockage in the bile ducts, and if so, may need surgery to remove them. This is the treatment of choice. But how does coffee diminish the risk of forming gallstones? Dr. Tybjaerg-Hansen has noted that because caffeine is excreted via the bile, it’s possible that it reduces the amount of cholesterol found in the bile. Since gallstones are made up of cholesterol and bile acids, a decrease in cholesterol means a lower possibility of forming gallstones. To put it simply, gallstones can not be formed if the balance between cholesterol and bile acids has been disrupted.

stethoscope on coffee beans showing coffee and health

The Effects of Caffeine

When asked whether caffeine is primarily responsible for this desirable effect, the author said “yes, that is a possibility” while adding that whatever’s behind coffee’s power, she believes that the research team’s subsequent genetic analyses indicate that it’s coffee itself – rather than the coffee drinkers’ lifestyle factors – that is at play.

The author added that, for now, this is only a speculation; further research to prove the uncovered correlations in this study should be undertaken. Nevertheless, the 8-year period dedicated to tracking more than a hundred thousand Danes, and the observed effect of coffee to gallstone formation is already a good lead for future research.

A.T. Nordestgaard, a colleague of the author and also a part of the research conducted, said that the recent research showed that coffee intake is associated with multiple variables known to be associated with risk of gallstone disease. These variables are potential confounders for the association between coffee intake and symptomatic gallstone disease (GSD). In addition, symptoms of gallstones such as colicky pain could, in theory, reduce individual coffee intake because coffee stimulates cholecystokinin release, increases gallbladder motility, and possibly enhances large bowel motility. This phenomenon in observational epidemiology is known as ‘reverse causation.’ It is, therefore, unclear whether the observed association between coffee intake and gallstone disease is causal.

The differences between the new findings and previous ones that explored the link between coffee and symptomatic gallstone disease are likely attributable to differences in sample sizes, designs, and study populations, according to researchers. But then again, future research can use this recently conducted study in Denmark as a springboard.