Background: Gallstone disease is a major source of morbidity in the developed countries. Nuts are rich in several compounds that may protect against gallstone disease.
Objective: The association between nut intake and cholecystectomy was examined in a large cohort of women.
Design: We prospectively studied nut (peanuts, other nuts, and peanut butter) consumption in relation to the risk of cholecystectomy in a cohort of 80,718 women from the Nurses' Health Study who were 30-55 y old in 1980 and had no history of gallstone disease. As part of the Nurses' Health Study, the women reported on questionnaires mailed to them every 2 y both their consumption of nuts and whether they had undergone cholecystectomy. The women were followed through 2000.
Results: During 1,393,256 person-years of follow-up from 1980 to 2000, we documented 7831 cholecystectomies. After adjustment for age and other known or suspected risk factors, women who consumed > or =5 units of nuts (1 unit = 1 oz or 28.6 g nuts)/wk (frequent consumption) had a significantly lower risk of cholecystectomy (relative risk: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.85; P for trend < 0.0001) than did women who never ate nuts or who ate <1 unit/mo (rare consumption). Further adjustment for fat consumption (saturated fat, trans fat, polyunsaturated fat, and monounsaturated fat) did not materially alter the relation. In analyses examining consumption of peanuts and other nuts separately, both were associated with a lower risk of cholecystectomy.
Conclusion: In women, frequent nut consumption is associated with a reduced risk of cholecystectomy.