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Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder

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Effects of coffee consumption

Several studies reviewing the relationship between coffee, caffeine and the development of gallstones suggest a preventative role

  • Research reviewing the relationship between coffee consumption and the development of gallstones suggests an inverse association between coffee intake and the risk of symptomatic gallstones, particularly in women4-9,11-12
  • Studies considering the incidence of gallstones in relation to intakes of coffee ranging from none through to 4 or more cups per day have suggested that as coffee intake increases, the risk of developing gallstones reduces4-7,11. Moderate coffee consumption is typically defined as 3-5 cups per day, based on the European Food Safety Authority’s review of caffeine safety13
  • Caffeine may influence the suggested inverse association between coffee consumption and the development of gallstones as the reduced risk is observed with caffeinated but not decaffeinated coffee5,6. Some research has suggested that caffeine may trigger the contraction of the gallbladder, in turn preventing the build-up of gallstones10; however, further trials are warranted to explore the mechanisms

The content in this overview was last edited in May 2017. Papers in the research section and further resources are added regularly.

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