Association of chili pepper consumption, low socioeconomic status and longstanding gallstones with gallbladder cancer in a Chilean population

Int J Cancer. 2002 Dec 1;102(4):407-11. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10716.


We explored the risk factors for gallbladder cancer and explanations for its sharp and constant incidence increase in Chile since the 1970s. We compared 114 consecutive patients with verified gallbladder cancer, diagnosed 1992-1995, to 114 matched hospital patients with gallstones, using conditional logistic regression analysis. Low education showed a nonsignificant positive relationship with gallbladder cancer [odds ratio (OR) = 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.8-6.2], and low socioeconomic level showed a significant relationship (OR = 5.0, 95% CI 1.5-17.3). A very long history of gallstone disease was significantly more prevalent among cases (OR = 11.0, 95% CI 1.4-85.2). Significant red chili pepper consumption was observed in gallbladder cancer patients (OR = 2.9, 95% CI 1.6-5.2). Low intake of both fresh fruit and sugar as soft drinks was associated with gallbladder cancer, with ORs of 6.4 (95% CI 1.4-30.3) and 3.6 (95% CI 1.3-10.1), respectively. Multivariate analysis kept only a very low socioeconomic status and red chili pepper consumption as significant independent risk factors for gallbladder cancer, ORs of 6.3 (95% CI 1.7-23.0) and 3.2 (95% CI 1.7-5.9). Longstanding gallstone cases were removed from the multivariate model because all were in the low and very low socioeconomic groups, reinforcing the association. Patients with gallbladder cancer differed from matched controls by exhibiting lower socioeconomic levels, having a much longer history of gallstone disease and presenting a dietary pattern characterized by high red chili pepper consumption and low fresh fruit intake.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Capsicum / adverse effects*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chile / epidemiology
  • Cholelithiasis / epidemiology*
  • Cholelithiasis / etiology*
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Educational Status
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*