gallbladder stores bile, the liquid produced by the liver
to digest fats. Gallstones, hard masses of cholesterol and
protein, are the most common digestive-related cause of hospitalization
in the United States, with symptomatic gallstone disease affecting
more than 20 million Americans annually.
A 10-year study (1986-1996) examined the possibility that
coffee could reduce the risk of gallstone formation. The study,
published by the Journal of the American Medical Association,
gathered data from more than 45,000 men and found a decreased
risk of symptomatic gallstone disease associated with higher
intake of regular (caffeinated) coffee. Subjects who drank
no coffee or only one cup per day had a higher risk compared
with those who drank four or more cups per day.
Does that mean you should run down to your local coffee shop
and start chugging the 64-ounce café mochas? Of course not.
As the authors of the study note, ³clinical recommendations
on coffee consumption should be based on patients¹ individual
health risks and benefits.² In other words, ask your doctor
for more information.
Letzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study
of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone
disease in men. Journal of the American Medical Association,
June 9, 1999: Vol. 281, No. 22, pp2106-2112.