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Background: Various saturated fatty acids have different effects on blood lipids and insulin secretion in experiments. The effect of long-term consumption of specific and different classes of saturated fatty acids on the risk of gallstone disease in humans is unknown.

Methods: We prospectively studied consumption of saturated fatty acids and risk of gallstone disease in a cohort of 44,524 US men from 1986 to 2002. Intake of saturated fatty acids was assessed using a validated semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. Newly diagnosed gallstone disease was ascertained biennially.

Results: During 584,679 person-years of follow-up, we documented 2350 incident cases of gallstone disease, of which 1387 cases required cholecystectomy. Compared with men in the lowest quintile of dietary intake of long-chain saturated fats, after adjustment for age and other potential risk factors, the relative risk of gallstone disease for men in the highest quintile was 1.24 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.02, 1.50, P for trend = 0.03], and the relative risk of cholecystectomy for men in the highest quintile was 1.41 (CI, 1.09, 1.82, P for trend = 0.008). Consumption of medium-chain saturated fatty acids or short-chain saturated fatty acids was unrelated to the risk.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that a higher consumption of long-chain saturated fatty acids may enhance the risk of gallstone disease in men.

(C) 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.