August 2, 2015

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Gallstones

What causes gallstones?

Gallstones are common; they occur in approximately 20% of women in the US, Canada and Europe, but there is a large variation in the prevalence among different ethnic groups. For example, gallstones occur 1 ½ to 2 times more commonly in Scandinavians and Mexican-Americans. Among American Indians, gallstone prevalence is more than 80%. These differences probably are accounted for by genetic (hereditary) factors. First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, and children) of individuals with gallstones are 1 ½ times more likely to have gallstones than if they did not have a first-degree relative with gallstones. Further support comes from twin studies that show that genetic factors are important in determining who develops gallstones. Among non-identical pairs of twins (who share 50% of their genes with one another), both individuals in a pair have gallstones 8% of the time. Among identical pairs of twins (who share 100% of their genes with one another), both individuals in a pair have gallstones 23% of the time.

There are several types of gallstones and each type has a different cause. Continue Reading

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Reviewed on 2/26/2015
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