Volume 6, Issue 15 | April 18, 2013
Why gout is becoming more prevalent —
and how you can avoid it
Are you at risk of getting gout? You might be. The number of patients showing up with gout is steadily increasing every year. I have been seeing patients for 40 years, and I have never seen so many new cases of gout. I saw three new cases just last week. Why? I researched it and discovered two reports point to the major reasons. And they show what you can do to protect yourself from this very aggravating problem.

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In the first report, a 2004 article entitled "Increasing prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia over 10 years among older adults in a managed care population," research showed that in the 1990s, the chance of getting gout almost doubled. It also noted that men were three to four times more likely to get it than women. And the ones most likely were those over 65 years old. I would bet you anything that those numbers have doubled since the '90s. So if you're a man over the age of 65, maybe you ought to read on and find out what you can do to prevent this painful condition.

In the second report, researchers at the Rheumatology Unit in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital looked at 47,150 men over a 12-year period. At the beginning of the study, none of them had gout. During the 12 years, 730 of them developed gout. Then the authors of the study set out to find out why.

Compared with men who were minimally overweight (body mass index of 21 to 22.9) men who were moderately overweight (body mass index of 25 to 29.9) were twice as likely to get gout. And the heavier the men were, the greater their risk. Those who were obese (body mass index over 35) were three times more likely to get the disease. But weight gain was not the only risk factor.

Men who had high blood pressure were 2.31 times more likely to get gout. And men taking diuretics for their blood pressure were more than four times more likely. This is because diuretic drugs prevent the elimination of uric acid from the kidneys. This causes it to build up in the blood. It is the elevated levels of uric acid in the blood that causes gout.

But diuretics are not the only cause of increased uric acid. Uric acid is also a normal breakdown product of meats and fish, beer and wine, organ meats (liver, sweetbreads, and kidney), scallops, herring, turkey, sugar sweetened sodas, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms. Gout also can be the result of surgery or crash dieting.

Of course, the increased prevalence of gout has caught Big Pharma's attention. They have come up with two new drugs in just the past two years to treat gout symptoms — Uloric and Krystexxa. Gout used to be known as a "rich man's disease." That's because it is stimulated by eating meat, and in the old days only rich people could afford to eat meat. Now, of course, all that has changed. In America, everybody eats meat. But now gout is a rich man's disease for another reason — the price of these new drugs. You have to be rich to afford them. Fortunately, you don't need to waste your money.

If you think you might be at risk for gout, here's what you should do. First, have your blood uric acid levels checked. Normal levels for men are 4.0-8.5 mg/dL. For women, they are 2.5-7.5 mg/dL. If you have a level over or even at the high end of these ranges, you are at risk. This is especially true if you're overweight, have high blood pressure, or are taking a diuretic. If your levels are less than 6 mg/dL, it is highly unlikely that you will ever get gout. Your best defense is to lose weight, avoid gout–causing foods, lower your blood pressure, and discuss with your doctor about stopping the diuretic.

But that's not all you can do. The two best natural treatments for gout are the herb turmeric and black cherry extract or juice. There are quite a few products available online that contain these herbs.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

REF: Choi HK, Atkinson K, Karlson EW, Curhan G. Obesity, weight change, hypertension, diuretic use, and risk of gout in men: the health professionals follow-up study. Arch Intern Med. 2005 Apr 11;165(7):742-8.

Wallace Kl, Riedel AA, Joseph-Ridge N, Wortmann R. Increasing prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia over 10 years among older adults in a managed care population. J Rheumatol2004; 31:1582–1587.

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