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Health Last Updated: Mar 11th, 2011 - 15:30:48

Gallstones Linked to Heart Disease, Cancer
Michele Kilpatrick
Mar 10, 2011, 07:54

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Those diagnosed with gallstones are nearly twice as likely to die within 20 years of diagnosis as those without. Gallstone sufferers are also more likely to succumb to heart disease and cancer.

Researchers studied the medical records of over 14,000 people aged 20 to 74. During the follow up period, ending in 2006, one in three of those with gallstones had died compared to one in seven of those without.

One in five gallstone sufferers died from heart disease, compared to one in twenty of those without. Cancer deaths were also higher, occurring in one in ten gallstone sufferers versus one in 25 without.

Dr. Philip Barie, a professor of surgery and public helath at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York who did not participate in the study, explained that the findings did not show that gallstones led to an earlier death, but rather were caused by the same health problems that could lead to death.

In an interview with Reuters Health Barie said, "People with gallstones may have an abnormal balance of fats in their body, including cholesterol, although there's no clear relationship between gallstone disease per se and high cholesterol."

Dr. Barie recommends that those with gallstones maintain a low fat diet to reduce the risk of heart disease.

More than 25 million Americans suffer from gallstones, with around one million new cases being diagnosed every year.

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