What are the risk factors for gallbladder and bile duct cancer?

Women are twice as likely to develop gallbladder cancer compared to men. Native Americans and Mexican Americans also have a higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer compared to the general population.

Other risk factors for gallbladder cancer include:

  • Being over the age of 70.
  • Having gallstones.
  • Having small growths (polyps) on the gallbladder wall.
  • Using tobacco, especially smoking.
  • Having a family history of gallbladder cancer.
  • Being obese.
  • Frequent infections with salmonella.
  • Having a condition called porcelain gallbladder. This happens when the gallbladder is covered in calcium deposits, which often happens when it is inflamed.

Bile duct cancer is more likely to affect people who suffer from chronic inflammation in the bile ducts, which is often caused by small stones (similar to gallstones) that form in the bile ducts.

Other risk factors for bile duct cancer include:

  • Having a history of ulcerative colitis
  • Having congenital bile duct cysts (choledochal cysts).
  • Being exposed to biliary parasites.
  • Having chronic hepatitis C
  • Using tobacco, especially smoking.
  • Having diabetes.

What can you do to prevent gallbladder and bile duct cancer?

Most risk factors for gallbladder and bile duct cancer are unavoidable, such as age, gender and ethnicity. If you have chronic gallstones or porcelain gallbladder, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder, which can prevent these types of cancers.

There are ways you can lower your risk for developing cancer, including:

  • Not using tobacco. Speak with your doctor if you need help quitting.
  • Exercising regularly.
  • Eating a healthy diet. Aim for plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fait dairy. Talk with your doctor or a nutritionist about what you should include in a healthy diet.
  • Keeping a healthy weight. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you
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