Coffee Intake Protects Against Symptomatic Gallstone Disease in the General Population: a Mendelian Randomization Study

A T Nordestgaard et al, 2019.
Journal of Internal Medicine, published online.
September 8, 2019



Coffee intake is associated with low risk of symptomatic gallstone disease (GSD). We tested the hypothesis that high coffee intake causally protects against symptomatic GSD using a Mendelian randomization design.


First, we tested whether high coffee intake was associated with low risk of GSD in 104 493 individuals from the general population. Mean follow-up was 8 years (range: <1-13 years). Secondly, we tested whether two genetic variants near CYP1A1/A2 (rs2472297) and AHR (rs4410790), combined as an allele score, were associated with higher coffee intake measured as a continuous variable. Thirdly, we tested whether the allele score was associated with lower risk of GSD in 114 220 individuals including 7294 gallstone events. Mean follow-up was 38 years (range: <1-40 years).


In observational analysis, those with coffee intake of >6 cups daily had 23% lower risk of GSD compared to individuals without coffee intake [hazard ratio (HR) = 0.77 (95% confidence interval: 0.61-0.94)]. In genetic analysis, there was a stepwise higher coffee intake of up to 41% (caffeine per day) in individuals with 4 (highest) versus 0 (lowest) coffee intake alleles (P for trend = 3 x 10-178 ) and a corresponding stepwise lower risk of GSD up to 19%[HR = 0.81 (0.69-0.96)]. The estimated observational odds ratio for GSD for a one cup per day higher coffee intake was 0.97 (0.96-0.98), equal to 3% lower risk. The corresponding genetic odds ratio was 0.89 (0.83-0.95), equal to 11% lower risk.


High coffee intake is associated observationally with low risk of GSD, and with genetic evidence to support a causal relationship.


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