Gallstones -- Causes and Prevention
Kidney Stones-Causes and Cures
Sarcoidosis Increases Your Risk for Kidney Stones
Standing Up Helps Improve Kidney Function
Foods That Fight Gout
Glomerulonephritis-How to Help This Rare Kidney Disease
Bowel Movements Indicate Your Overall Health
Stomach Cancer--_Causes, Symptoms and Prevention Diet
Ideal Breakfast to Fight Arthritis
Swollen Ankles-Causes and Cures
Swollen Hands-Causes and Cures
Phlebitis-Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies
Deep Vein Thrombosis-Causes and Cures
Night Cramps--Why Your Legs Seize Up At Night
Tight Bras and Briefs-Health Dangers
Blood Pressure-What It Means
Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure
Best Breakfast to Lower Blood Pressure




March 23,  2008, Updated August 30 2011

By Paul Andrews, Associate Editor
and Featured Columnist


What Are Gallstones?

Gallstones are small, hard, pebble-like substances ---hence the
name stones.  They develop in the gallbladder, a small, pear-
shaped sac located below your liver in the right upper abdomen.

Gallstones are usually about the size of tiny pearls but they can
vary in size. Some can be tiny as a grain of sand or as large as
a golf ball.

























What Causes Gallstones?

To understand what causes gallstones, it helps to know a little
bit about how the gallbladder works. Your gallbladder is the
organ that is a kind of mixer. The gallbladder's job is to mixes a
liquid substance called bile with other ingredients into a potion
which breaks down fats.  Once the gallbladder finishes creating
the fat-zapper concoction, it then squeezes it through a tube --
think tubepaste-- into the small intestines, where the work of
digestion is completed.

The bile used by the gallstone comes from the liver but it is
stored in the gallbladder until your body needs it to be excreted
through the tube and into the intestines for digestion.  

What does the bile do while it is sitting around your gallbladder
waiting for some digestive action? Well, there's the problem.  
Waiting around. While the bile waits around, it can start to
harden.  If the wait is long enough, it can harden into stones.

But not all bile concoctions harden into stones? Why? Why do
some people get stones and others do not?

The Role of Cholesterol

The answer is a familiar culprit--cholesterol.  You see, bile
contains water, cholesterol, fats, bile salts, proteins, and
bilirubin—a waste product. Bile salts break up fat, and bilirubin
gives bile and stool a yellowish-brown color. If the liquid bile
contains too much cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, it can
harden into gallstones.


Eighty percent of all gallstones are hardened cholesterol.  
These are usually a yellow-green color.  The other twenty
percent of gallstones are made of bilirubin, the bile salt. These
are small and dark.

Genetics

Some ethnicities develop gallstones at far greater rates than
others.  

Mexican Americans are at a greater risk for developing
gallstones. Over 50% of American Indian men have gallstones
by the age of 60. Among the Pima Indians of Arizona, 70% of
all their women have gallstones by age 30.

Other Factors Increasing Your Risk for Gallstones

Sex. Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallstones.
Excess estrogen from pregnancy, hormone replacement
therapy, and birth control pills appears to increase cholesterol
levels in bile and decrease gallbladder movement, which can
lead to gallstones.

Family history. Gallstones often run in families, pointing to a
possible genetic link.

Weight. A large clinical study showed that being even
moderately overweight increases the risk for developing
gallstones. The most likely reason is that the amount of bile
salts in bile is reduced, resulting in more cholesterol. Increased
cholesterol reduces gallbladder emptying.
Obesity is a major
risk factor for gallstones, especially in women. (Read more
about ideal
waist size and ideal weight for women.)

Diet. Diets high in fat and cholesterol and low in fiber increase
the risk of gallstones due to increased cholesterol in the bile
and reduced gallbladder emptying.

Rapid weight loss. As the body metabolizes fat during
prolonged fasting and rapid weight loss—such as “crash diets”
—the liver secretes extra cholesterol into bile, which can cause
gallstones. In addition, the gallbladder does not empty properly.

Age. People older than age 60 are more likely to develop
gallstones than younger people. As people age, the body tends
to secrete more
cholesterol into bile.

Cholesterol-lowering drugs. Drugs that lower cholesterol levels
in the blood actually increase the amount of cholesterol
secreted into bile. In turn, the risk of gallstones increases.

Diabetes. People with
diabetes generally have high levels of
fatty acids called triglycerides. These fatty acids may increase
the risk of gallstones.


Related:

How Do You Prevent Gallstones?

Why Americans Read In Bathrooms-The Hidden Epidemic of
Constipation

Bowels -3 Keys to Normal Bowels

Diet and Exercise-A Simple Plan

Snoring Increases Your Risk of Stroke 67%

Six Pack Abs--Step By Step

Foods That Reduce Blood Pressure

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

Owning a Cat Reduces Risk of Stroke 40%


DIETS AND FITNESS









BOWEL MOVEMENTS

INTESTINES-KEEP THEM
HEALTHY

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH
SALT

HOW MUCH SALT IS IN MY
FOOD

SALT CONTENT OF COMMON
FOODS

150,000 DIE FROM EXCESS
SALT

I HAVE HIGH BLOOD
PRESSURE!

FOODS THAT LOWER YOUR
BLOOD PRESSURE

INFLAMMATION INSIDE
THE BODY

FAT--IT'S ALIVE!

WHY WE GO SOFT IN THE
MIDDLE

WHY EUROPEANS ARE
THINNER

>VEGETARIAN RECIPES


MY HEART ATTACK

CANCER SURVIVORS
BRAIN HEALTH

>CROSSWORD
PUZZLES
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Gallstones of various sizes.