Beer is high in organic compounds called purines, which may increase the risk of gout flares. A person living with gout should not drink beer over the recommended limits.
Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in response to hyperuricemia, which is the medical term for excess uric acid in the blood.
In gout, this excess uric acid crystallizes and accumulates within the joints. This triggers an inflammatory response that may lead to joint pain, swelling, and issues with mobility.
In some cases, the hyperuricemia that triggers gout is due to increased uric acid production. The body creates uric acid when breaking down organic compounds called “purines” from purine-rich foods and beverages. Beer is rich in purines, so consuming beer may worsen gout.
This article describes what gout is and outlines the link between beer and gout. We also list some additional risk factors for gout and discuss whether it is safe for a person with the condition to drink beer and other types of alcohol.
Alcohol contains organic compounds called purines, which the body breaks down and converts to uric acid. Overproduction of uric acid can lead to hyperuricemia.
Hyperuricemia increases the risk of gout. This is because excess uric acid within the blood can crystallize and form deposits within the joints.
A 2021 review found that most studies linked gout to the consumption of alcoholic beverages, such as beer and spirits. The researchers recommended that people with gout, as well as those at risk of developing the disease, limit their alcohol consumption to prevent gout episodes or flares.
Different types of alcohol contain different types and amounts of purines. Beer is high in a type of purine called guanosine.
Besides consuming alcoholic beverages such as beer, other risk factors for gout include:
- having a family history of gout
- being male
- having obesity
- drinking beverages that have a high sugar content
- consuming a diet that is high in purine-rich foods, such as:
- red meat
- organ meat
- taking diuretics or water pills
- living with one of the following health conditions:
- high blood pressure
- metabolic syndrome
- poor kidney function, or chronic kidney disease
- congestive heart failure
There is currently no cure for gout. However, treatments can slow the progression of the disease and reduce the frequency and severity of gout flares.
A doctor may recommend one of the following medications to treat inflammation and pain during a gout flare:
If a person experiences two or more gout flares a year, their doctor may recommend that they take medication to reduce levels of uric acid in their body. This will also help to reduce the risk of permanent joint damage.
Medication options include:
A 2019 study measured the purine content of different foods, alcoholic beverages, and supplements. The study found the highest levels in beer and certain animal-based products.
The study also found that the reaction time between drinking alcohol and the development of a gout flare was rapid, occurring within 24 hours.
However, if a person is experiencing a gout flare, they may wish to avoid alcohol until their gout is under control with medication.
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that develops in response to hyperuricemia, which is the medical term for excess uric acid levels in the blood. A person may develop hyperuricemia due to consuming a purine-rich diet. Beer and other types of alcohol are high in purines, so consuming alcohol may increase the risk of a gout flare.
A person who has gout may wish to limit or avoid alcohol, particularly if they are experiencing a gout flare.
Anyone who experiences difficulty limiting their alcohol intake should talk with their doctor for further advice and guidance.