Moderate alcohol intake reduces gallstone risk, says study

June 2nd, 2009 - 5:48 pm ICT by IANS  

London, June 2 (IANS) Drinking two units of alcohol daily reduces the risk of developing gallstones by a third, according to the latest findings.
It is already known that alcohol intake has a protective effect against the formation of gallstones, but this new study establishes the precise quantitative effect of each unit of alcohol on the development of gallstones.

Using questionnaires, investigators measured the dietary habits of 25,639 men and women and followed them for a 10-year period, during which time 267 patients developed gallstones.

Participants provided detailed information on the frequency and quantity of their alcohol intake. Researchers found that those who reported consuming two UK units of alcohol per day had a one-third reduction in their risk of developing gallstones.

Each unit of alcohol consumed per week reduced the chances of gallstones by three percent. One UK unit of alcohol contains eight grams of alcohol.

Researchers emphasised that their findings show the benefits of moderate alcohol intake but stress that excessive alcohol consumption can cause health problems.

Quantifying how much alcohol reduces the risk of gallstone development allows doctors to offer specific guidance without introducing the risk of excessive alcohol consumption.

“These findings significantly increase our understanding of the development of gallstones,” said Andrew Hart, gastroenterology lecturer at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Hart presented his findings at the Digestive Disease Week annual meeting in Chicago, said a UEA release.

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