According to a recent study published on bmj.com, men who drink sugary soft drinks and eat fructose have an increased risk of gout.
Gout is a disease caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood (hyperuricemia) that provokes an inflammatory reaction in tissues and joints. It is often painful and is most common in men 40 years of age and older. Over the last few decades, levels of gout in the United States have doubled. This increase has coincided with higher levels of soft drinks and fructose consumption – fructose is a simple sugar that increases uric acid levels.
Usually, patients with gout are told to restrict consumption of alcohol and meat products such as liver and kidney that contain organic compounds called purines. It is unconventional to restrict consumption of sugary soft drinks.
Researchers in the US and Canada analyzed the link between sugar intake – through soft drinks and fructose in food – and the risk of gout. Following over 46,000 men (with no history of gout) aged 40 or over for 12 years, the researchers compiled data on food intake of more than 130 foods and beverages, including regular and diet soft drinks as well as fruits and fruit juices that are naturally high in fructose. Every two years after the beginning of the study, the researchers collected data on weight, use of medications, and medical conditions. During the 12-year period, 755 newly diagnosed cases of gout were recorded.
Major findings include:
- As the intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks increased, the risk of gout increased
- Compared to men who consumed less than one serving of soft drinks per month, those who consumed 5-6 servings per week significantly raised their risk of gout by 29%
- Those who consumed two or more servings per day significantly increased their risk by 85% compared to those who consumed less than one serving per month
- Diet soft drinks were not associated with the risk of gout
- Foods rich in fructose such as fruits and fruit juices were associated with increased risk of gout
Results of the study are independent of other gout risk factors such as body mass index, age, use of diuretics, blood pressure, alcohol consumption, and diet. The authors caution that the findings regarding fruit and fruit juices should be carefully interpreted, keeping in mind that consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with prevention of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.
Soft Drinks, Fructose Consumption, and the Risk of Gout in Men: Prospective Cohort Study
Choi, Hyon and Curhan, Gary
bmj.com, January 31, 2008
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Written by: Peter M Crosta, MA