AT A GLANCE
- About 80 percent of people who have gallstones have no symptoms (non-symptomatic gallstones). However, in a minority of cases, gallstones trigger severe abdominal pain (symptomatic gallstones). In these instances, the gallstones can cause the gallbladder to become inflamed and this leads to gallbladder disease.
- The majority of the research* shows that coffee consumption is linked to a reduced risk of symptomatic gallstones (or gallbladder disease), and coffee may have a beneficial effect.
- Some studies provide insights into possible mechanisms:
- For example, coffee may exert different effects depending on the stage of gallbladder disease.
- There is some evidence that coffee, and caffeine in particular, may trigger the contraction of the gallbladder.
- Increased gallbladder contraction may prevent small crystals becoming large, symptomatic gallstones in early disease; but if large, symptomatic gallstones are present, gallbladder contraction may cause pain.
*Very few relevant, and significant, human epidemiological studies on the role of coffee in gallbladder disease have been published since 2002.