Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Gallstone disease in Peruvian coastal natives and highland migrants


BACKGROUND In a previous study, we found that gallstones were a common occurrence in the high altitude villages of the Peruvian Andes.

AIMS To determine if high altitude (⩾ 1500 m) is a contributing risk factor for gallstone disease.

METHODS We conducted a cross sectional study in a periurban community in Lima, Peru, and compared the prevalence of gallstone disease between coastal natives, highland (Sierra) natives and Sierra natives who had migrated to the coast. We also compared the prevalence rates from this study with those from a previous study conducted at high altitude. We examined 1534 subjects >15 years of age for gallstone disease. Subjects were interviewed for the presence or absence of risk factors.

RESULTS Gallstone disease was more common in females (16.1 cases per 100, 95% CI 13.8–18.2) than in males (10.7 per 100, 95% CI 8.0–13.4). Females had a greater risk of gallstone disease, especially if they had used oral contraception and/or had four or more children. The age adjusted prevalence was not significantly different between coastal natives, Sierra migrants, and Andean villagers. The prevalence of gallstone disease was not associated with time since migration or with having native Sierra parents. After adjusting for other risk factors, Sierra natives who migrated to the coast had a lower prevalence of gallstone disease than coastal natives (odds ratio 0.74, 95% CI 0.58–0.94).

CONCLUSIONS This study indicates that high altitude is not a positive risk factor for gallstone disease and confirms that this disease is common in Peruvians, which may be attributable to Peruvian-Indian ethnicity.

  • gallstone disease
  • cholelithiasis
  • high altitude
  • risk factors
  • epidemiology
  • Peru

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.