Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Gallstone disease (GSD) is associated with a higher risk of gastrointestinal (GI) cancer. However, it is unclear whether the associations are causal. METHODS: The prospective China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) recorded 17,598 cases of GI cancer among 510,137 participants without cancer at baseline during 10 years of follow-up. Cox regression was used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) for specific cancer by GSD status and duration. Mendelian randomisation was conducted to assess the genetic associations of GSD with specific cancer. RESULTS: Overall 6% of participants had symptomatic GSD at baseline. Compared with those without GSD, individuals with symptomatic GSD had adjusted HRs of 1.13 (1.01-1.29) for colorectal, 2.01 (1.78-2.26) for liver, 3.70 (2.88-4.87) for gallbladder, 2.31 (1.78-3.07) for biliary tract, and 1.38 (1.18-1.74) for pancreatic cancer. Compared with participants without GSD, the risks of colorectal, liver, gallbladder, biliary tract, and pancreatic cancer were highest during 0 to <5 years following disease diagnosis. There was evidence of genetic associations of GSD with these cancers, with odds ratios per 1-SD genetic score of 1.08 (1.05-1.11) for colorectal, 1.22 (1.19-1.25) for liver, 1.56 (1.49-1.64) for gallbladder, 1.39 (1.31-1.46) for biliary tract, and 1.16 (1.10-1.22) for pancreatic cancer. When meta-analysing the genetic estimates in CKB and UK Biobank, there was evidence of causal associations of GSD with colon cancer, gallbladder and biliary tract cancer (GBTC), and total GI cancer (RR per 1-SD: 1.05 [0.99-1.11], 2.00 [1.91-2.09], and 1.09 [1.05-1.13]). CONCLUSIONS: GSD was associated with higher risks of several GI cancers, warranting future studies on the underlying mechanisms.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1864 - 1872


Adult, Aged, Asians, Causality, China, Cholelithiasis, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Gastrointestinal Neoplasms, Genetic Association Studies, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors