Some drinks may affect gout

Patients who experience gout pain symptoms may benefit from taking a closer look at what they drink.

A group of rheumatologists recently spoke to AOL Health about purines, which can increase the risk of gout. Purines are compounds that can be found in high-protein foods and also in some drinks.

The first drinks mentioned were alcoholic beverages, specifically beer. Rheumatologist Jennifer Sloane, M.D., told the news source that a recent study estimated that people who drink 12 ounces of beer daily are 1.5 times more likely to develop gout than people who do not. Beer was named the drink most likely to cause gout, but other alcoholic beverages also pose a risk.

"Alcohol causes the kidneys to excrete alcohol instead of excreting uric acid. That increases the amount of uric acid in the blood, which could provoke a gout attack in about one or two days," David Freeman, MD, told AOL Health.

Sloane also recommended against consuming soft drinks. Studies have shown that drinking just one sugary soft drink a day nearly doubles the risk of developing gout for women. Diet soda was not found to increase the chance of getting the disorder, suggesting a connection between the levels of sugar in a beverage and its likelihood of contributing to gout.

In the past, artificially sweetened drinks have been connected to the disease, along with some naturally sweetened beverages. Freeman suggested to AOL Health that fructose levels in sodas and juices could be to blame for their role in increasing a person's risk of developing gout. While fructose is added to most artificially sweetened beverages, it occurs naturally in orange juice, making it just as likely to affect a person's risk.

The news source also reported that caffeine has been shown to be somewhat of a contradiction when it comes to gout. While some studies have shown that consuming caffeine can protect against the disease, since it has similar properties to medications used to treat it, others have found that dramatically increasing caffeine intake can raise the risk of gout symptoms by as much as 80 percent.

Until more research can be conducted, the rheumatologists recommended avoiding energy drinks due to their high levels of caffeine and fructose.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the exact cause of gout is unknown. The groups at a higher risk for the disease are males, postmenopausal women and people who drink alcohol. The organization also states that gout can develop in people who already have another chronic condition. People with kidney disease, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, leukemia and those who are obese may also become afflicted with the disorder.

The Mayo Clinic describes a gout attack as coming on with little warning, and causing extreme pain. The clinic uses the example of feeling like the inflicted joint is on fire, to the point where even the weight of a bed sheet can prove unbearable. It recommends making lifestyle changes to combat the disorder, such as avoiding alcohol and other drinks previously mentioned. 

First published on: July 25, 2011

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