Gallstones

What Causes Gallstones?

To successfully treat and prevent recurrence of gallstones we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow gallstones to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind gallstones consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to gallstones.  Here are seven possibilities:
  • Low Melatonin
  • Excess Animal Fat Consumption
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • High LDL/HDL Ratio
  • Cirrhosis Of The Liver
  • A Weight Problem
  • Inadequate Fiber Intake

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
dairy product consumption
having trouble concentrating
poor bodily coordination
omnivorous diet
having low melatonin levels
poor tolerance of heat
diarrhea for 1-3 months
difficulty losing weight
edema of the abdomen
nausea for 1-3 months
oily/sticky stools
weak appetite
... and more than 60 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of gallstones:
Cause Probability Status
Epstein-Barr Virus 98% Confirm
Inadequate Fiber Intake 26% Unlikely
A Weight Problem 12% Unlikely
High LDL/HDL Ratio 5% Ruled out
Excess Animal Fat Consumption 2% Ruled out
Low Melatonin 2% Ruled out
Cirrhosis Of The Liver 1% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate gallbladder problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
Have you had a problem with gallstones?
Possible responses:
→ My gallbladder has been removed / don't know
→ No, tests have confirmed none are present
→ Yes, but it/they were passed without surgery
→ Yes, but it/they only cause few/minor symptoms
→ Yes, they cause frequent/major symptoms
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate confirmed absence of gallstones, past non-surgical gallstone removal, having non-problematic gallstones or having problematic gallstones, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Cirrhosis of the Liver

If cirrhosis prevents bile from reaching the gallbladder, a person may develop gallstones as a result.

Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)

Bladder dysfunction is said to be a symptom.

Low Melatonin Level

There is evidence that a lack of melatonin could significantly increase the risk of developing gallbladder stones.  Melatonin inhibits cholesterol secretion from the gallbladder, helps convert cholesterol to bile, and as an antioxidant can reduce oxidative stress on the gallbladder. [Digestive Diseases and Sciences. 2008;53(10):pp.2592-603]

Excess Animal Fat Consumption

People who eat high-fat, high-cholesterol or low-fiber diets are at increased risk of developing gallstones.

Inadequate Fiber Intake

People who eat high-fat, high-cholesterol or low-fiber diets are at increased risk of developing gallstones.

LDL/HDL Ratio, High

Gallstone formation does not correlate with blood cholesterol levels, but persons with low HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol) levels or high triglyceride levels are at increased risk.

Problems Caused By Being Overweight

Obesity in both men and women increases the risk for gallstones.  This may be a result of lower levels of bile salts relative to cholesterol in the bile causing a higher risk for cholesterol supersaturation and the formation of stones.

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