Alcohol may trigger gout attacks

By Megan Rauscher Tue Sep 26, 3:37 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Drinking alcohol, even a small amount, may trigger recurrent painful bouts of gout, a study shows.

The gout-triggering effect of alcohol “occurs within a short period of time, perhaps less than 24 hours,” study investigator Yuqing Zhang from Boston University told Reuters Health. “Thus, subjects with established gout should avoid drinking alcohol.”

Gout is a common form of inflammatory arthritis, often causing recurrent episodes of pain and swelling of the joints. Although effective therapies are available, many patients with gout continue to experience recurrent attacks.

Alcohol consumption has long been suspected to be a “trigger” for gout attacks; however, this hypothesis has not been formally tested.

In their study of 179 gout patients who had an attack within the previous year, Zhang and colleagues found that alcohol consumption, even a light-to-moderate amount, is capable of triggering a bout of gout.

Compared with individuals who did not drink alcohol, those who drank five to six alcoholic beverages during a 48-hour period had a twofold greater likelihood of having a recurrent attack of gout, the investigators report in the American Journal of Medicine.

For those who drank seven or more drinks over the 2-day period, the odds for a recurrent attack of gout was 2.5-fold higher compared with those who abstained.

An increased risk of recurrent gout attacks was found for beer, wine, and spirits.

SOURCE: The American Journal of Medicine, September 2006.





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