Use of cholesterol-lowering drugs or statins for over a year can significantly lower a person's risk of developing gallstones that require surgery, a new study has said.
Gallstones are classified as either cholesterol (80 percent-90 percent) or pigment stones (10 percent-20 percent), with cholesterol stones formed on the basis of cholesterol-supersaturated bile.
"Statins decrease hepatic [liver] cholesterol biosynthesis and may therefore lower the risk of cholesterol gallstones by reducing the cholesterol concentration in the bile. Data on this association in humans are scarce," said the authors.
During the study, Dr Michael Bodmer, M.Sc., of University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, examined the association between statin use and the risk of developing gallstone disease followed by cholecystectomy or surgical removal of the gallbladder.
"This large observational study provides evidence that patients with long-term statin use have a reduced risk of gallstone disease followed by cholecystectomy compared with patients without statin use," said the researchers.
"However, the odds ratio was not decreased for patients with short-term statin use but started to decrease after 5 prescriptions, reflecting approximately 1 to 1.5 years of treatment," they added.
The study appears in Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).