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Four Cups of Coffee a Day may Cut Down the Risk of Gout

Coffee is widely consumed beverage and is regularly investigated and debated for its impact on health conditions from breast cancer to heart disease. Among its complex effects on the body, coffee or its components have been linked to lower insulin and uric acid levels on a short-term basis or cross-sectionally. These and other mechanisms suggest that coffee consumption may affect the risk of gout, the most prevalent inflammatory arthritis in adult males.

To examine how coffee consumption might aggravate or protect against this common and excruciatingly painful condition, researchers at the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada, University of British Columbia in Canada, Brigham and Womens Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Harvard School of Public Health in Boston conducted a prospective study on 45,869 men over age 40 with no history of gout at baseline. Over 12 years of follow-up, Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, and his associates evaluated the relationship between the intake of coffee and the incidence of gout in this high risk population. Their findings, featured in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism (http: www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritis), provide compelling evidence that drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day dramatically reduces the risk of gout for men.

Subjects were drawn from an ongoing study of some 50,000 male health professionals, 91 percent white, who were between 40 and 75 years of age in 1986 when the project was initiated. To assess coffee and total caffeine intake, Dr. Choi and his team used a food-frequency questionnaire, updated every 4 years. Participants chose from 9 frequency responses ranging from never to 2 to 4 cups per week to 6 or more per day to record their average consumption of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and other caffeine-containing comestibles, such as cola and chocolate.

Through another questionnaire, the researchers documented 757 newly diagnosed cases meeting t
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