Risk factors for getting gallstones include:
- Obesity. This is one of the biggest risk factors. Obesity can cause a rise in cholesterol, and can also keep the gallbladder from emptying completely.
- Estrogen. Women who are pregnant or who take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy have higher levels of estrogen. This can cause a rise in cholesterol, as well as a reduction in gallbladder motility.
- Ethnic background. Certain ethnic groups, including Native Americans and Mexican-Americans, are more likely to develop gallstones.
- Gender and age. Gallstones are more common among women and among older people.
- Cholesterol drugs. Some cholesterol-lowering drugs increase the amount of cholesterol in bile, which may increase the chances of developing cholesterol stones.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes tend to have higher levels of triglycerides (a type of blood fat), which is a risk factor for gallstones.
- Rapid weight loss. If a person loses weight too quickly, his or her liver secretes extra cholesterol, which may lead to gallstones. Also, fasting may cause the gallbladder to contract less.
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