• serum lipid levels;
  • gallstones;
  • biliary tract cancer


Biliary tract cancers, encompassing the gallbladder, extrahepatic bile ducts and ampulla of Vater, are rare but highly fatal malignancies. Gallstones, the predominant risk factor for biliary cancers, are linked with hyperlipidemia. As part of a population-based case-control study conducted in Shanghai, China, we examined the associations of serum lipid levels with biliary stones and cancers. We included 460 biliary cancer cases (264 gallbladder, 141 extrahepatic bile duct, and 55 ampulla of Vater), 981 biliary stone cases and 858 healthy individuals randomly selected from the population. Participants completed an in-person interview and gave overnight fasting blood samples. Participants in the highest quintile of triglycerides (≥160 mg/dl) had a 1.4-fold risk of biliary stones (95% CI = 1.1–1.9), a 1.9-fold risk of gallbladder cancer (95% CI = 1.3–2.8), and a 4.8-fold risk of bile duct cancer (95% CI = 2.8–8.1), compared to the reference group (third quintile: 90–124 mg/dl). Participants in the lowest quintile of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (<30 mg/dl) had a 4.2-fold risk of biliary stones (95% CI = 3.0–6.0), an 11.6-fold risk of gallbladder cancer (95% CI = 7.3–18.5), and a 16.8-fold risk of bile duct cancer (95% CI = 9.1–30.9), relative to the reference group (third quintile: 40–49 mg/dl). In addition, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and apolipoprotein A (apo A) were inversely associated with biliary stones; whereas low levels as well as high levels of total cholesterol, LDL, apo A and apolipoprotein B (apo B) were associated with excess risks of biliary tract cancers. Our findings support a role for serum lipids in gallstone development and biliary carcinogenesis. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.