by EBSCO Medical Review Board

A risk factor is something that raises the chances of getting a health problem. A person can get gallstones with or without the ones listed below. The chances of getting gallstones are greater in people who have many risk factors.

Gallstones are more common older women and in people who have other family members who have had them. People of Native American and Scandinavian ancestry are also at higher risk.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

Health Problems

Having the following health problems may raise the risk:

Certain Medicines

Some medicines can raise the risk, such as:

  • Oral contraceptives
  • Hormone replacement therapy—in postmenopausal women
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs—fibrates


These dietary problems can raise the risk:

  • Rapid weight loss or frequent changes in weight—causes the liver to put extra cholesterol into the bile
  • Fasting—decreases gallbladder movement, causing bile to have too much cholesterol
  • Higher intake of trans-fatty acids
  • Eating foods with a high-dietary glycemic index or glycemic load
  • IV feeding


Gallstones. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2022.

Gallstones. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2022.

Gallstones. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2022.

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