Richard G. Petty, MD

Gall Bladder Disease and Insulin Resistance

When I was a young student, everyone learned that gallstones were more common in people who were “Fat, female, fair and forty.” As you can see we lived in different times and nobody would say anything quite like that today. Not least because it’s now only partially correct. Gallstones are occurring at ever-earlier ages, because they are a recognized complication of obesity. And we all know that we are in the midst of a pandemic of overweight and obesity.

We have also been remarking on the number of people with bipolar disorder who have a history of gallstones.

For many years now, the explanation for the link has been to do with an increasing levels of cholesterol, which are a major precipitant of gallstones. There’s also evidence that high carbohydrate diets increase the risk of gallstones. Weight loss reduced the risk of developing them, though suddenly losing a lot of weight with an unbalanced diet may increase the risk of gallstones.

Now a paper from colleagues at three medical schools has just been published this month, and it helps clarify the connection. The conclusion of the scientists is important: insulin resistance itself seems to cause problems with the normal emptying of the gallbladder, and that would predispose people to the development of gallstones.

Insulin resistance is a feature of increasing weight. Several studies that have found increased rates of insulin resistance in people with bipolar disorder implying an increased risk of gallstones. Though gallbladder disease didn’t show up in a recent study from some friends in Toronto, I could not find any systematic studies of gallstones and bipolar disorder. And it is a study that needs to be done.

So there’s a tip for a researcher who can’t think of a project!

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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