Coffee May Protect Against Gallstones

Drinking more coffee may help reduce the risk of developing gallstones (GSD), according to a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Among 104,493 individuals, those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 23% lower risk of developing symptomatic gallstones compared with individuals who did not drink coffee.

Drinking one extra cup of coffee per day was associated with 3% lower risk.

First, we tested whether high coffee intake was associated with low risk of GSD in 104 493 individuals from the general population. Mean follow‐up was 8 years (range: <1–13 years). Secondly, we tested whether two genetic variants near CYP1A1/A2 (rs2472297) and AHR (rs4410790), 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 lower risk of GSD in 114 220 individuals including 7294 gallstone events. Mean follow‐up was 38 years (range: <1–40 years).

In observational analysis, those with coffee intake of >6 cups daily had 23% lower risk of GSD compared to individuals without coffee intake. In genetic analysis, there was a stepwise higher coffee intake of up to 41% (caffeine per day) in individuals with 4 (highest) versus 0 (lowest) coffee intake alleles and a corresponding stepwise lower risk of GSD up to 19%. The estimated observational odds ratio for GSD for a one cup per day higher coffee intake was 0.97, equal to 3% lower risk. The corresponding genetic odds ratio was 0.89, equal to 11% lower risk.

Also, individuals with certain genetic variants that have been linked to increased coffee consumption had a lower risk of gallstones.

Although the study only uncovered correlations, the authors highlighted several mechanisms by which coffee consumption might help prevent gallstones from forming.

High coffee intake is associated observationally with low risk of GSD, and with genetic evidence to support a causal relationship.

Wiley Journal Article

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