Did you know there are certain risk factors which affect your chances of developing gallstones? If you want to prevent them, it helps to know what these risk factors are.
So, how likely is it that you’ll develop gallstones? Here, we’ll look at who typically gets gallstones and the risk factors you should be aware of.
Common Gallstone Risk Factors
Although gallstones are extremely common, some groups of people are more prone to developing them than others. Some of the most common risk factors for the condition include:
- Family history
- Being female
- Certain medical conditions
- Diet and weight
It is known that gallstones are more prevalent in older age. You also have an increased risk if you have a family history of gallstones. So, if your mother or father suffered with them, there is a higher risk you will too.
Women are known to suffer with gallstones more than men. This is especially true with pregnant women who have more estrogen in their system. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also increase the risk.
Interestingly, there also appears to be a race factor involved. It has been discovered that American Indians and Mexican Americans have an increased risk of developing the condition. American Indians in particular are at risk due to their genes which increase the amount of cholesterol in the bile. It is thought that American Indians have the highest prevalence of gallstones over any other race in the US.
If you have certain medical conditions you may also be at an increased risk. Cirrhosis, low HDL cholesterol, hemolytic anemias and diabetes are all associated with a higher risk of gallstones.
Finally, diet and weight can also play a role. Those who are obese, have undergone weight-loss surgery, or who are on a high-calorie, low-fiber diet, are all more susceptible to developing gallstones.
Which Risk Factors Can You Control?
Unfortunately, the majority of risk factors are out of your control. However, there are a couple that you do have some level of control over.
As some gallstones develop due to weight and diet issues, managing your weight and eating healthy can go some way to preventing them. The healthier and fitter you are, the lower your risk of developing any condition and disease – including gallstones.
If you have a medical condition which increases your risk of gallstones, you can also gain control by managing the condition. Taking medication and reducing the effects of the condition can go a long way towards preventing the development of gallstones. You can talk to your doctor about the risks and anything you can do to reduce them.
On the whole, most gallstones cannot be prevented. Anybody can develop them at any age but the older you are, the bigger the risk. Being aware of the risk factors gives you a better position to watch out for the symptoms and assess your likelihood of developing them.