Background & aims: Metabolic studies have shown that coffee affects several hepatobiliary processes that are involved in cholesterol lithogenesis. We previously showed that coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men.
Methods: We prospectively examined the association between coffee drinking and cholecystectomy, a surrogate of symptomatic gallstone disease, in a cohort of 80,898 women age 34-59 years in 1980 who had no history of gallstone disease. Coffee consumption and cholecystectomy were reported by participants on biennial mailed questionnaires.
Results: During 20 years of follow-up to the year 2000, 7,811 women reported a cholecystectomy. Compared with women who consistently reported consuming no caffeinated coffee, the multivariate relative risks (adjusting for risk factors for gallstone disease) of cholecystectomy comparing increasing categories of consistent intake of caffeinated coffee (0, 1, 2-3, and > or =4 cups/day) were 1.0, 0.91, 0.78, and 0.72 (95% confidence interval comparing extreme categories, 0.62-0.84; P value of test for trend < 0.0001). Caffeine intake from beverages and dietary sources was also inversely associated with risk of cholecystectomy. The multivariate relative risks comparing increasing categories of caffeine intake (< or =25, 26-100, 101-200, 201-400, 401-800, and >800 mg/day) were 1.0, 1.03, 1.01, 0.94, 0.85, and 0.85 (95% confidence interval comparing extreme categories, 0.74-0.96; P value of test for trend < 0.0001). In contrast, decaffeinated coffee was not associated with risk.
Conclusions: These data suggest that consumption of caffeinated coffee may play a role in the prevention of symptomatic gallstone disease in women.