One expert said it's not surprising gout rates are climbing.
"First of all, our ability to diagnose gout earlier and probably more often has improved," said Dr. Nathan Wei, clinical director at the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Md. "And the second reason is that with people living longer in general, postmenopausal women in particular are becoming more prone to gout. And that is because one of the risk factors for gout is the institution of diuretic therapy, which is typically prescribed for high blood pressure in postmenopausal women. This can increase blood uric acid levels and lead to gout."
Zhu and her colleagues also pointed to an overall rise in obesity and high blood pressure among Americans as possible contributing factors.
"Gout is the most common inflammatory arthritis in the U.S," added Dr. Tuhina Neogi, lead author of a second study on gout and an associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. "We have good medications that can potentially prevent gout attacks, yet people do still get attacks, with recurrent attacks being the biggest burden of gout."
Neogi and her team sought to answer another question: Might the caffeine that millions of Americans drink daily in coffee, tea and other drinks help trigger gout attacks?
"We know there are some factors that can trigger gout attacks, such as consuming alcohol, red meat, and certain seafoods," she said. "And although a previous study found that, over the long-term, caffeine intake seems to actually lower the body's uric acid level and decrease the risk for developing gout among those who have never experienced an attack, we wanted to see what the impact of caffeine might be for patients who already have a history of gout."
According to Neogi, the study f
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