Regular Exercise May Prevent Gallstone Surgery
Gallstones are an important cause of disease and a common reason for surgery. Women, particularly those who have had multiple pregnancies or have certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Native American or U.S. southwestern Hispanic, are at particular risk.
Obesity an Important Risk Factor
Obesity is an important risk factor for gallstone disease that can be modified, as are frequent changes in weight.
Rapid Weight Loss is a Factor
Rapid weight loss leads to the rapid growth of gallstones and a high risk of symptomatic disease. A gallstone can develop when bile, cholesterol, calcium salts and other substances come together to form a mass in the gallbladder, the organ that stores bile. Gallstones often exist without causing symptoms, but surgery is sometimes necessary when the stones cause severe pain.
Exercise & Gallstones
Being physically active may help a woman avoid gallstone surgery. Women who exercised the most were 31% less likely to have gallstone surgery than the least active women.
Even Moderate Exercise Reduces Surgery for Gallstones
Even a moderate amount of exercise was linked to a significant decline in the risk of gallbladder surgery. An average of 2 to 3 hours of recreational exercise per week appeared to reduce the risk by approximately 20%. Compared to the least sedentary women, who spent less than 6 hours per week sitting at work or driving, women who spent 41 to 60 hours a week sitting were 42% more likely to undergo gallbladder surgery.
Why Exercise Beneficial for Gallstones
There are a number of potential pathways that may explain the beneficial effects of exercise besides weight control. Physical activity has been shown to make the gut move more rapidly, which may prevent gallstones from forming. In addition, it may reduce levels of fatty substances called triglycerides, which play a role in the development of gallstones.
SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine September 9,1999
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