High cholesterol levels in the blood can cause crystals to form in the gallbladder. Over time, these crystals can grow larger and eventually turn into gallstones. In fact, about 80% of gallstones are cholesterol stones.
The gallbladder does not empty
When the gallbladder fills up with bile, it’s supposed to empty itself after digestion. However, there are situations where this doesn’t happen. As a result, small amounts of bile remain in the gallbladder, and these can crystallize and form into stones over time.
High levels of bilirubin in the blood
Bilirubin, which is a substance produced when red blood cells break down, can build up in a person’s blood. If the levels of bilirubin get too high, then it can start to crystallize in the gallbladder and form stones.
This typically happens in people with jaundice or liver problems.
Here are some risk factors associated with gallbladder stones:
- A family history of gallstones
- If you are 40 or older
- If you’re a woman
- Having a diet that’s low in fiber
- Losing a lot of weight too quickly
- Eating a high-fat or high-cholesterol diet
- Being overweight or obese
All of these things can increase a person’s risk for gallbladder stones.