26 February 2008

Exercise May Stop Gallstone Formation

Dr. Kenneth R. Wilund and colleagues found that the overall gallstone weight was 2.5-fold greater in sedentary mice compared with mice that exercised. The researchers suggest that exercise may provide similar benefit to humans.

"The basic physiology of gallstone formation is pretty similar in humans and mice," Wilund told Reuters Health. Many of the proteins involved in the liver's cholesterol and bile acid metabolism are very similar, he said.

"It is well established that chronic exercise reduces the incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer," Wilund continued. "This study provides preliminary evidence that perhaps we can add gallbladder disease to this list."  
[Reuters, 25 Feb 2008]

In the Philippines, because most people do not usually consult doctors when in pain, gallstones are discovered in a late stage when the only treatment option available is the surgical removal of the gallbladder or cholecystectomy.

While there are no online statistics available, by observation, the typical patient is female, either in her late-50s or in her 60s, most often fat or very fat, has a history of eating fatty foods for a long time, and does not often have a regular exercise habit in her lifestyle. Unbearable stomach pain is the most common chief complaint when this patient finally decides to go to the hospital for help. A study done in Cebu and published in 1995 showed that gallstones ranked as the top gastrointestinal problem encountered among patients aged 60 and above.

There is no exact cause of gallstone formation. What causes it is usually an interplay of factors, which includes genetic predisposition, diet, increased estrogen (due to pregnancy or intake of pills), and a certain blood disorder.

Among gallstone patients who can still bear the pain and abhor the surgical treatment option --- either because of the money involved or extreme fear of being cut up --- the wonderful option of "gallbladder flush" is a most welcome temptation. "It's probably cheaper and not painful," they would reason out. In my opinion, the gallbladder flush works only if done early. But because gallstones develop over time without symptoms, patients do not usually do that.

Bottomline: After some more mental bargaining and more excruciating stomach pain, they usually agree to do the surgical treatment option.

3 reactions:

bayi said...

I have a friend whose gall bladder was removed. He doesn't seem to have suffered from any side effects. Dr Emer, what happens when the gall bladder is removed?

Dr. Emer said...

Bile formed by the liver is stored in the gallbladder, Bayi. Without the gallbladder, bile moves directly from liver to the small intestine to help in fat digestion. There is usually no problem with having the gallbladder removed.

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