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Association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and gallstone risk in nonobese and lean individuals.

PURPOSE: The association between nonobese/lean nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and gallstone formation remains unclear. We aimed to assess whether NAFLD is an independent risk factor for gallstones, even in nonobese or lean individuals.

METHODS: We analyzed 265 353 asymptomatic adults who underwent abdominal ultrasonography. The risk of gallstone was assessed on the basis of obesity and NAFLD status.

RESULTS: The overall prevalence rates of NAFLD and gallstones were 27.1% and 2.6%, respectively. The prevalence rates of NAFLD among the 195 204 nonobese and 136 194 lean participants were 14.7% and 7.4%, respectively. Individuals with NAFLD had a significantly increased risk of gallstones (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-1.32). Moreover, NAFLD significantly increased the risk of gallstone (adjusted OR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.17-1.41) among nonobese individuals. Lean individuals with NAFLD also exhibited a significantly increased risk of gallstones (adjusted OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.03-1.40). Furthermore, these findings remained consistent even in nonobese and lean individuals without insulin resistance.

CONCLUSION: Nonobese/lean NAFLD is an independent risk factor for gallstone formation, suggesting its role in gallstone pathogenesis, regardless of obesity status. Therefore, when hepatic steatosis is detected on abdominal ultrasonography, a more thorough evaluation of the gallstones may be necessary, even in nonobese or lean individuals.

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