How Diet, Alcohol, and Obesity Add to Risk of Developing Gout [Video]

  • While certain factors such as genetics or chronic kidney disease can increase the risk of developing gout, others like diet, alcohol, and obesity can also add risk.
  • Women are less likely to have gout than men, but the risk in women can significantly increase after menopause.
  • Some medical events can also trigger a gout attack, including a traumatic joint injury, an infection, a recent surgery, and a crash diet.

Gout is a form of arthritis that can cause sudden, severe attacks of pain and inflammation in the joints. Genetics may play a big role in developing the condition but factors like diet, alcohol, and obesity can also contribute just as greatly.

Men are more likely to develop gout than women, but women’s risk can significantly increase after menopause.

The risk of gout is related to several factors—genetic, medical, and lifestyle—that combined, add to an increase in uric acid levels in the blood, a condition called hyperuricemia.

Dietary Causes

Foods that contain an organic compound called purine can cause gout. When consumed, purine is broken down by the body and converted into the waste product — uric acid. If uric acid is formed faster than it can be excreted from the body, it will begin to accumulate, eventually forming the crystals that cause attacks.

Certain foods and beverages that are common triggers are:

  • High-purine foods like organ meats, bacon, veal, and certain types of seafood.
  • Beer made with brewer’s yeast — an ingredient with an extremely high purine content. But in general, any form of alcohol can increase the risk of a gout attack.
  • High-fructose beverages like sodas and sweetened fruit drinks as the concentrated sugars impair the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys.

Genetic Causes

Genetics can play a significant role in the risk of gout. Hereditary hyperuricemia can lead to impaired renal (kidney) excretion of uric acid. The inability to maintain equilibrium between how much uric acid is produced and how much is expelled will ultimately lead to hyperuricemia.

Medical Causes

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There are certain medical conditions that can predispose you to gout. Some of the more common medical risk factors include:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
  • Lymphoma
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Other medical events are known to trigger a gout attack, including a traumatic joint injury, an infection, a recent surgery, and a crash diet (possibly through rapid changes in blood uric acid levels). 

Medication Causes

There are medications that cause hyperuricemia, either because they have a diuretic effect (increasing the concentration of uric acid) or impair renal function. Most important are the diuretic medicines, such as furosemide (Lasix) or hydrochlorothiazide. Other medicines, such as levodopa (used to treat Parkinson’s disease) or niacin (vitamin B3) can also increase uric acid levels. 

Lifestyle Risk Factors

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Lifestyle choices can also increase the risk of gout, like the factors you can’t control, such as age or gender. They may not entirely erase your risk, but they can affect how frequently and severely you experience an attack.

Excessive body weight is linked to high uric acid levels.

According to a 2015 study, among people with gout, those with higher volumes of abdominal fat have a 47.4 percent risk of an attack compared to those with normal waistlines who have a 27.3 percent risk. This is irrespective of the person’s body mass index (BMI), suggesting that the more fat we visibly carry, the greater our risk of symptoms.

Source: Very Well Health



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