Gallstone Causes and Prevention

Gallstone Causes and Prevention

Gallstones are hardened lumps of solid material that can form in your gallbladder, and are made when the digestive juice called bile turns hard and stone-like. A common condition, gallstones vary in size and can range in size from as small as a grain of sand to as big as a golf ball.

Types of Gallstones

There are 2 types of gallstones: cholesterol and pigment.

  • Cholesterol Stones – these are the most common type of stone, are often a yellow-green color and are made mainly of hardened, un-dissolved cholesterol.
  • Pigment Stones – these are less common, are dark in color, and form when your bile contains too much of a yellowish pigment called bilirubin.


Although it’s not entirely clear what causes gallstones, doctors have determined that gallstones may result when:

  • Too much cholesterol in your bile. Your bile normally contains enough chemicals to dissolve the cholesterol excreted by your liver. However, if your liver excretes more cholesterol than your bile can dissolve, the excess cholesterol may form into crystals and eventually into stones.
  • Too much bilirubin in your bile. Bilirubin is a chemical that’s produced when your body breaks down red blood cells. Your liver may make too much bilirubin due to certain conditions including liver cirrhosis, biliary tract infections and certain blood disorders. The excess bilirubin can contribute to gallstone formation.
  • Your gallbladder doesn’t empty properly. If your gallbladder doesn’t empty completely or frequently enough, bile may become concentrated and contribute to the formation of gallstones.

Risk Factors

People who are at a higher risk for gallstones include:

  • Women. Twice as many women get gallstones than men
  • People over 40 years of age
  • Native American Indians
  • Mexican-Americans
  • People who are overweight or obese
  • People who are sedentary
  • Women who are pregnant or have been pregnant
  • People whose intake of dietary fat is high
  • People who eat a high-cholesterol diet
  • People who eat a low-fiber diet
  • People with a family history of gallstones
  • People with diabetes
  • People who lose weight very quickly
  • Women undergoing high-dose estrogen therapy
  • People who have liver disease


Some ways to reduce your gallstone risk include:

  • Having consistent mealtimes and not skipping meals.
  • Losing weight gradually.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Following a vegetarian diet.

If you think you may have gallstones, call Avalon Hernia today at (626) 310-0772 to schedule a consultation with a Gallbladder specialist.



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