Objective: Cholelithiasis is a common problem in hospitals of the Peruvian Andes; however, its prevalence in Andean communities is unknown. To estimate the prevalence of gallstone disease in this locale, we conducted a cross-sectional community study in three high-altitude Peruvian rural villages (i.e., > 3000 m above sea level). Methods: We examined 911 volunteers > 15 yr of age from three villages for gallstone disease by history and ultrasonography. Risk factors for gallstone disease were examined in 382 volunteers from one village. Results: The age-adjusted prevalence of gallstone disease ranged from 4-10% in men and from 18-20% in women. Women had significantly higher age-adjusted prevalence rates than did men. The prevalence of gallstone disease increased significantly with age and decreased significantly with alcohol consumption. Although not statistically significant, we found a positive association between gallstone disease and body mass index. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that gallstone disease, commonly perceived as a disease of the developed world, is also a common problem in high-altitude Peruvian communities.
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