Gallbladder Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

Gallbladder Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

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It is not clear what causes gallbladder cancer. Certain factors make a person more likely to develop the disease. Gallbladder cancer usually affects older people (age 70 and above). Women are also much more likely than men to develop the disease. Gallbladder cancer is more common among Mexican Americans, southwestern Native Americans, and people from certain South American countries, particularly Chile.

Some other risk factors for gallbladder cancer include:

Gallstones and Inflammation

Gallstones are hard, rocklike formations similar to kidney stones. Gallstones are made of cholesterol and other substances in the gallbladder. Up to 90 percent of people diagnosed with gallbladder cancer also have gallstones and longstanding inflammation of the gallbladder. These conditions are more common in women. That’s why women are more likely to develop gallbladder cancer. It is important to remember that gallstones are quite common, and most people with gallstones never develop gallbladder cancer. 

Porcelain Gallbladder

Porcelain gallbladder is a condition in which the gallbladder becomes covered in calcium deposits, resembling porcelain ceramic. This condition can occur when the gallbladder becomes inflamed. It is thought that excessive gallstones bring on porcelain gallbladder, but the exact cause is not clear. 

Gallbladder Polyps

Gallbladder polyps are growths that extend from the gallbladder’s mucous membrane. Some polyps are precancerous and can progress to cancer. Our surgeons will usually remove polyps that are 1 centimeter or larger, appear to be growing, or have a broad base.

Typhoid

People who have been repeatedly infected with salmonella (the bacteria that causes typhoid) are six times more likely to develop gallbladder cancer.

Obesity

Many people who develop gallbladder cancer are overweight or obese. They often have a high-carbohydrate or low-fiber diet. 

Family History

A family history of gallbladder cancer seems to increase a person’s chances of developing the disease, although the risk is still low.