Beer, gout linked
Port gets off easier in study of beer, wine and spirits drinkers
Apr 16, 2004 - A new study out of Massachusetts confirms the theory that drinking alcohol and gout are related. Playwrights and authors have long written that the joint inflammation can be the curse of heavy drinkers, but the link was never proved.
Worse news is that beer drinkers run an even higher risk of contracting gout. As the Times in London wrote: "The image of gout sufferers as cantankerous old men with a fondness for port was shattered yesterday -- drinking beer is more likely to give rise to the painful disease."
A team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital the study published in The Lancet, showing shows beer is more likely to provoke gout than either wine or spirits. Their work did not include other dietary factors or the effects of exercise.
The researchers followed more than 45,000 men aged between 40 and 75 over a 12-year period. There were more than 700 confirmed cases of gout. The results showed that men who drank two or more beers a day were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop gout than those who did not drink.
For two measures of spirits a day, they say there is one-and-a-half times the risk. But they say a couple of glasses of wine a day will not make any difference.
Gout, one of the oldest known medical conditions, afflicts mostly men and usually strikes between the ages of 40 and 50, according to the U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It often starts in the big toe, with sudden attacks of pain and swelling, and can permanently damage joints and kidneys.
Gout is caused by deposits of crystals of a chemical called uric acid in joints. Alcohol consumption leads to "hyperuricaemia" which is when the body produces too much uric acid.
Dr. Hyon Choi said that may be because something other than the alcohol in drinks was a factor. She said that could be a chemical called purine, which is found in larger quantities in beer than in other alcoholic drinks and could "augment the hyperuricaemic effect of alcohol itself".
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