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Painful Gout on the Rise in U.S.
Date:11/8/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Nov. 7 (HealthDay News) -- More and more Americans are struggling with gout as rates of the painful and sometimes disabling arthritic condition continue a decades-long upswing, a new study shows.

Researchers report that by 2008, an estimated 8.3 million Americans were subject to gout attacks, equivalent to 3.9 percent of the U.S. adult population. That's a substantial rise from the 2.7 percent prevalence rate noted in the late 1980s to early 1990s.

The findings are to be presented this week in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. Other research presented at the meeting suggests that two of America's favorite beverages, coffee and sweetened drinks such as sodas, may contribute to gout risk.

Gout is a very painful form of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid. This causes uric acid crystals to be deposited on the cartilage of joints, tendons and other surrounding tissue, especially in the feet, causing an inflammatory reaction.

The study on rising gout numbers was led by Yanyan Zhu, a research assistant professor in the clinical epidemiology research and training unit at Boston University School of Medicine. Her team analyzed two National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

The first survey was conducted between 1988 and 1994 and involved almost 19,000 men and women aged 20 and over; the second involved more than 5,700 participants and covered the period 2007 to 2008.

Noting that the rate of gout had already doubled in the United States between the 1960s and the 1990s, Zhu and her team found that the trend has continued into the new century, primarily driven by an increase among men and seniors.

In addition to rising gout rates, the authors also found that "hyperuricemia" (a "pre-gout" condition defined by the presence of abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood) is also on the rise.

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