Ascorbic acid supplement use and the prevalence of gallbladder disease. Heart & Estrogen-Progestin Replacement Study (HERS) Research Group

J A Simon, D Grady, M C Snabes, J Fong, D B Hunninghake
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 1998, 51 (3): 257-65
To investigate the relation of ascorbic acid supplement use to gallbladder disease and cholecystectomy, we conducted a cross-sectional analysis of baseline from 2744 postmenopausal women, aged 44-79 years, enrolled in the Heart & Estrogen-progestin Replacement Study (HERS), a secondary coronary heart disease prevention trial. A total of 629 HERS participants (23%) reported a history of gallbladder disease. Of these, 508 (19%) also reported a history of cholecystectomy. In bivariate models, ascorbic acid supplement use was associated with a decreased prevalence of gallbladder disease [odds ratio (OR)=0.74; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.57, 0.96] and a trend toward a decreased prevalence of cholecystectomy (OR=0.77; 95% CI, 0.58, 1.02). Because we detected significant interactions between ascorbic acid supplement use and alcohol consumption, multivariate analyses were performed stratified by drinking status. After adjustment for potential confounding variables, use of ascorbic acid supplements among drinkers was associated with a decreased prevalence of gallbladder disease (adjusted OR=0.50; 95% CI, 0.31, 0.81) and cholecystectomy (adjusted OR=0.38; 95% CI, 0.21, 0.67). Use of ascorbic acid supplements among non-drinkers was not significantly associated with either prevalence of gallbladder disease or cholecystectomy. Further study is necessary to confirm our findings and, specifically, to examine the combined effects of ascorbic acid and alcohol on cholesterol metabolism.

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