Every additional cup a day of coffee, up to six cups, resulted in a 3 percent lower risk for gallstones.
Drinking coffee has been tied to a range of health benefits. Here’s another to add to the list: It may reduce the risk for gallstones.
Danish researchers did a two-part study. In the first, the observational part of the study, they followed 104,493 men and women for eight years. They had data on their coffee consumption, and during that time, there were 2,233 cases of gallstones.
The researchers found that every additional cup a day of coffee, up to six cups, resulted in a 3 percent lower risk for gallstones. Compared with people who drank none, those who drank coffee had a 7 to 23 percent reduced risk for gallstones, depending on how much they drank.
Then they used a genetic technique called Mendelian randomization that takes advantage of the randomized distribution of genetic variants in the population. They found that people with two genetic variants known to be associated with caffeine intake had an 11 percent reduced risk of gallstones for each additional daily cup of coffee. Mendelian randomization in a sense creates a natural randomized study, and makes it more likely that the association is causal.
“There are a lot of studies that show that with increasing obesity there will be increasing problems with gallstones,” said the senior author, Dr. Anne Tybjaerg-Hansen, a physician at Copenhagen University Hospital. “It’s not dangerous to drink coffee, and it can be beneficial in preventing this disease.”