Christoph Meier and colleagues from the university hospital of Basel, Switzerland, conducted a case-controlled analysis using information from the UK General Practice Research Database.
The researchers matched each of 27,035 patients who had undergone gallbladder removal with four controls. They then estimated the odds of developing gallstones requiring removal for patients who were taking statins and those who were not.
Patients who had been prescribed statins for over four years had a 36 per cent reduced risk of developing gallstones requiring removal.
This benefit only emerged after more than a year of statin use, the researchers found.
This long-term benefit suggests the reduced risk may be the result of a class effect for all statins, Dr Meier and colleagues said. 'Our findings may be of clinical relevance given that gallstone disease represents a major burden for health systems,' they concluded.