Coffee can Protect Against Gallstone Formation

Coffee can Protect Against Gallstone Formation

by Hannah Joy on Sep 5 2019 12:34 PM
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  • High coffee intake helps lower the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease (GSD)
  • People who drink more than 6 cups of coffee can prevent the formation of gallstones
Coffee can help reduce the risk of developing gallstones, reveals a new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.
Among 104,493 individuals, those who drank more than six cups of coffee per day had a 23% lower risk of developing symptomatic gallstones compared with individuals who did not drink coffee.

Drinking one extra cup of coffee per day was associated with 3% lower risk. Also, individuals with certain genetic variants that have been linked to increased coffee consumption had a lower risk of gallstones.

Although the study only uncovered correlations, the authors highlighted several mechanisms by which coffee consumption might help prevent gallstones from forming.

Details of the Study

The research team tested the hypothesis that high coffee intake causally protects against symptomatic GSD using a Mendelian randomization design.
  • First, they tested whether high coffee intake was associated with low risk of GSD in 104 493 individuals from the general population. Mean follow‐up was 8 years (range: <1–13 years).
  • Secondly, we tested whether two genetic variants near CYP1A1/A2 (rs2472297) and AHR (rs4410790), combined as an allele score, were associated with higher coffee intake measured as a continuous variable.
  • Thirdly, we tested whether the allele score was associated with lower risk of GSD in 114 220 individuals including 7294 gallstone events. Mean follow‐up was 38 years (range: <1–40 years).
Results of the Study

In observational analysis, those with coffee intake of >6 cups daily had 23% lower risk of GSD compared to individuals without coffee intake [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.77 (95% confidence interval: 0.61–0.94)].

In genetic analysis, there was a stepwise higher coffee intake of up to 41% (caffeine per day) in individuals with 4 (highest) versus 0 (lowest) coffee intake alleles (P for trend = 3 x 10−178) and a corresponding stepwise lower risk of GSD up to 19%[HR = 0.81 (0.69–0.96)].

The estimated observational odds ratio for GSD for a one cup per day higher coffee intake was 0.97 (0.96–0.98), equal to 3% lower risk. The corresponding genetic odds ratio was 0.89 (0.83–0.95), equal to 11% lower risk.


Drinking more than six cups of coffee can lower the risk of developing symptomatic gallstone disease (GSD).