Gout is a common inflammatory form of arthritis that affects approximately four million Americans and this number is increasing dramatically. The major reason for this is the parallel epidemic of obesity that is partially fueled by the increased consumption of high-fructose containing soft drinks. In fact, many experts feel that high-fructose containing beverages are the number one cause of the gout epidemic.
When these soft drinks are metabolized through the liver, they generate an increased amount of uric acid. Accumulation of uric acid leads to an elevated level of uric acid in the blood, internal organs such as the kidneys, and in the joints.
Gout is not a benign disease. It is associated with many other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and coronary artery disease. Gout patients are at increased risk for both heart attack as well as congestive heart failure. Gout is also associated with the development of osteoarthritis.
While high fructose containing beverages increase the risk of gout, dairy products such as milk appear to reduce the risk of gout. This is accomplished through two mechanisms: the first is an anti-inflammatory effect; the second is through the lowering of serum uric acid.
It is clear from epidemiologic data that while the incidence of gout is increasing, the proper treatment of gout can have an enormous positive effect. Studies have demonstrated that lowering serum uric acid reduces the risk of both heart attack as well as stroke.
Newer therapies designed to decrease serum uric acid through various mechanisms are under study at the present time. It is predicted that the incidence of gout will continue to rise as a result of dietary indiscretion but that newer approaches to gout will help reduce the negative health impact of the disease.
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