Gallstones, hard stones made up of deposits of cholesterol
and other material, usually develop in the gall bladder and
can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as 2.5 inches.
Most of the time,
gallstones produce few or no symptoms; however, when symptoms
do occur, they include severe nausea, vomiting, shivers and
In severe cases, gallbladder disease may develop, at times
necessitating surgical removal of the gallbladder. However,
a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition shows that moderate consumption of alcoholic
beverages, including beer, wine and spirits, might help lower
the risk of symptomatic gallstones and gallstone disease in
Women's Health Study participants with no history of gallstones
or gallbladder disease were monitored for 20 years for the
development of the condition; food-frequency questionnaires
(every two to four years) were used to track alcohol intake.
Results showed that all alcoholic beverage types were inversely
associated with the development of gallstone disease, independent
of consumption patterns (e.g., frequency or amount of alcohol
But before you run out and stock your fridge, the study cautions
patients to discuss the potential health effects of alcohol
consumption with a qualified health care professional. After
all, while alcohol may help prevent gallbladder disease, it
can also contribute to liver problems and dependency issues,
among other complications. Most experts agree that your best
bet in preventing gallstones is to eat a well-balanced diet
low in fat and rich in whole grains, lean meat and vegetables.
Leitzmann MF, Tsai C-J, Stampfer MJ, et al.
Alcohol consumption in relation to risk of cholecystectomy
in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition August
2003: Volume 78, Number 2, pp.339-347.
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