Abdominal Fat Linked to Gallstones

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Men are less likely than women to develop gallstones-crystallized clusters made mostly of cholesterol that form in the gallbladder and can cause symptoms, often after meals, ranging from indigestion to bloating to abdominal pain. But men who do appear to be at increased risk for gallstones have a particular type of body fat distribution-specifically, fat around their midsections.

Harvard researchers who followed nearly 30,000 male health professionals for 11 years found that men whose waist circumference (after adjustment for height) was at least 40.4 inches had a risk of gallstones that was almost three times higher than men whose waist circumference was less than 34 inches.

Abdominal fat may raise the risk for gallstones for the same reason it raises the risk for conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Fat in the midsection is more metabolically active than fat distributed in the lower body, meaning that it produces and releases greater amounts of substances like fatty acids and hormones.

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