In Brief: Link found between abdominal fat and gallbladder surgery

In Brief

Link found between abdominal fat and gallbladder surgery

Published: May, 2006

Harvard researchers have discovered one more reason to watch our waistlines: avoiding gallstone surgery. Their study, published in the journal Gut (Feb. 14, 2006), found that women who accumulate weight around the middle are more likely to need cholecystectomy — surgery to remove the gallbladder. The research suggests that waist measurement may be a better predictor of gallbladder risk than body mass index (BMI).

Gallstones often produce no symptoms and require no treatment. But they can cause severe pain, jaundice, and inflammation of the gallbladder, bile duct, and pancreas. As a result, 800,000 cholecystectomies are performed each year in the United States. Compared to men, women are twice as likely to have gallstones, and the risk increases with age. The Gut study analyzed 14 years of data from 42,312 participants in the Nurses' Health Study. At the outset, none had gallbladder disease; by the end of the study period, the group had undergone 3,197 gallbladder surgeries.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »