Alcohol and Gallstones Risk: Moderate Drinking Reduces Risk

Many people are concerned about drinking alcohol and gallstones risk. Gallstones are hard bits from bile (digestive fluid) that can occur in the gallbladder. That’s a small organ just below the liver. Yet gallstones can be very painful if they cause blockage of bile by lodging in a duct. Thus, people want to reduce their risk of developing them.


          1. Symptoms
          2. Risk Factors
          3. The Study
          4. Resources

I. Gallstone Symptoms

When a gallstone lodges in a duct, it may cause any of these symptoms.

    • Back pain between shoulder blades.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain in right shoulder.
    • Sudden and increasing pain in the upper right portion of abdomen.
    • Sudden and increasing pain in the center of abdomen, just below the breastbone.

The pain caused by a gallstone may only last a few minutes. On the other hand, it may last for hours.

II. Risk Factors

Any of these things can increase the risk of gallstone problems.

alcohol and gallstone risk
Examples of Gallstones
    • Age 40 or older.
    • Being either Native American or Mexican American.
    • Being female.
    • Certain blood disorders, such as sickle cell anemia or leukemia.
    • Diabetes
    • Family history of gallstones.
    • High-cholesterol diet.
    • High-fat diet.
    • Liver disease.
    • Losing weight quickly.
    • Low-fiber diet.
    • Meds that contain estrogen.
    • Obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Sedentary life style.

III. Study: Alcohol and Gallstones Risk

Researchers wanted to know if drinking alcohol effected gallstone risk. To do so, they studied 60,768 women from the Nurses’ Health Study. They also studied 40,744 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. And they followed them for 26 years.

The study of women included 1,156,079 person-years. During that time 6,946 women had gallstone symptoms. For men there were 769,287 person-years of study. During that time, 2,513 men had gallstone symptoms.

The researchers found that women who drank in moderation had a 13% lower risk of gallstones. For men, the reduced risk was 7%. 

These findings are consistent with other research. In short, moderate drinking reduces the risk of gallstones.

The health benefits of beer, wine, and distilled spirits (liquor) are generally the same.

IV. Resources: Alcohol and Gallstones Risk


    • alcohol and gallstone riskKo, C. Gallbladder Disease. Saunders.
    • N.I.C.E. Gallstone Disease. The Inst.
    • Sullivan, J.  The Gallstone-Friendly Diet. Hammer.


    • This site gives no advice. Please see your doctor with questions.