Prevalence and risk factors of gallstone disease in an adult population of Taiwan: an epidemiological survey

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 Nov;21(11):1737-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2006.04381.x.


Background and aims: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors of gallstone disease (GSD) in an adult population of Taiwan through a population-based screening study.

Methods: A cross-sectional community study in a rural village of Taiwan was conducted in 3333 Chinese adults (aged > or = 18 years) undergoing ultrasonography. A questionnaire on personal history was completed to ascertain whether the removed gallbladder contained stones in all cholecystectomized subjects, the dietary habits (vegetarian/non-vegetarian diet), the history of GSD in the participant's first-degree relatives, the history of gastrointestinal surgery (vagotomy, gastrectomy for peptic ulcer disease, or ileal resection), parity, and use of oral contraceptives. The demographic characteristics and biochemical parameters were recorded.

Results: The overall prevalence of GSD was 5.0% (4.6% in men, 5.4% in women) with no significant sex differences (men/women: odds ratio [OR] 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.50-1.01, P = 0.058). Logistic regression analysis showed that increasing age (men: 40-64 years, OR 7.38, 95% CI 2.59-21.01, P < 0.001 and > or = 65 years, OR 14.16, 95% CI 4.84-41.47, P < 0.001; women: 40-64 years, OR 4.08, 95% CI 1.90-8.75, P < 0.001 and > or = 65 years, OR 6.78, 95% CI 2.97-15.46, P < 0.001) and the presence of fatty liver evidenced by ultrasonography (men: OR 2.24, 95% CI 1.32-3.80, P = 0.003; women: OR 2.13, 95% CI 1.33-3.42, P = 0.002) were risk factors for GSD. Additionally, fasting plasma glucose > or = 126 mg/dL (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.16-3.83, P = 0.014), history of GSD in the first-degree relatives (OR 7.47, 95% CI 2.22-25.12, P = 0.001), and use of oral contraceptives (OR 10.71, 95% CI 3.06-37.49, P < 0.001) were risk factors for GSD in women, but fasting plasma glucose > or = 126 mg/dL was only correlated to GSD without controlling for other confounding factors in men. Other demographic characteristics and biochemical parameters, such as high body mass index (> or = 25 kg/m2), increased parity, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperuricemia, hepatitis C infection and cirrhosis, did not exhibit any correlation to GSD in logistic regression analysis, although they appeared to be related to GSD in women in univariate analysis.

Conclusions: Age and fatty liver in both sexes were found to be risk factors for GSD in the study population. The finding of a correlation between fatty liver and GSD is an important addition to the literature concerning the risk factors of GSD. Diabetes mellitus, history of GSD in the first-degree relatives, and use of oral contraceptives were also risk factors for GSD in women.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Gallstones / diagnostic imaging
  • Gallstones / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Ultrasonography


  • Contraceptives, Oral