Weight “cycling” linked to risk of gallstones among men

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 13th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Many Americans fall into a cycle of weight “cycling,” or losing weight and then regaining it. The phenomenon often occurs in men when they find a beloved new workout at the gym, or sign up for seasonal sports. But when circumstances change, many drop the regimen and regain the weight. Now research indicates that this see-saw cycle of body weight can increase men’s risk for gallstones later in life.

Gallstone disease occurs when a solid mass of cholesterol, bile and calcium salts forms in the gallbladder. Obesity is a risk factor for gallstone disease, as is rapid weight loss for the treatment of severe obesity.

To assess whether weight cycling influenced the risk of

developing gallstones, researchers at the University of Kentucky analyzed data from almost twenty-five-thousand men who provided information about any weight fluctuations between 1988 and 1992. They were then sent a questionnaire every two years from 1992 to 2002 to monitor whether they had developed gallstone disease.

Doctors divided the study subjects into four groups…

maintainers, or those who remained within five pounds of

their initial weight… and then three groups of “cyclers”…

light, moderate and severe. Compared with weight maintainers, those who were light cyclers had a twenty-one percent increased risk of gallstones, moderate cyclers had a

thirty-eight percent increased risk and severe cyclers an increased risk of seventy-six percent.

The message is clear: For gallbladder health, men at risk for large fluctuations in weight should strive to maintain a steady and healthy weight.