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Gallstones Linked to Increased Risk of Death

Gallstone disease linked to increased all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality

THURSDAY, Feb. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with ultrasound documented gallstone disease or evidence of cholecystectomy have increased mortality from all causes and increased mortality related to cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a study published in the February issue of Gastroenterology.

Constance E. Ruhl, M.D., Ph.D., from Social and Scientific Systems Inc. in Silver Spring, Md., and James E. Everhart, M.D., M.P.H., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., analyzed data from 14,228 individuals who participated in the third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and underwent gallbladder ultrasonography between 1988 and 1994. Mortality hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated.

The investigators found that the prevalence of gallstones was 7.1 percent, and cholecystectomy 5.3 percent of the population studied. Individuals with gallstone disease had increased all-cause mortality after adjusting for age (HR, 1.3), and in a multivariate adjusted analysis (HR, 1.3). Similar increases were seen for both cardiovascular mortality and cancer-related mortality. Patients who underwent a cholecystectomy had similar increases in mortality (HR, 1.1).

"In the U.S. population, persons with gallstone disease had increased overall, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality. This relationship was found with both ultrasound-diagnosed gallstones and cholecystectomy and was largely unexplained by multiple demographic and cardiovascular disease risk factors," the authors write.

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