Alcohol Is A Trigger

On The Rise

One of the most common forms of arthritis, gout causes pain and swelling of specific joints, for instance, the big toe. Though the mechanism for gout is well understood and effective treatment available, the most recent studies show that the disease is on the rise. Furthermore, those already afflicted with the disease are having more recurrences than ever before.

A major factor in preventing recurrent gout attacks is identifying triggers or precipitating factors that bring on the attacks, and the subsequent avoidance of such activities. Until now, little work was done to ascertain which triggers cause recurrent attacks of gout. Some researchers are attempting to correct this omission by applying scientific methodology to the problem of what causes gout to recur.

An early study did show that the consumption of alcohol increases the level of uric acid in the blood and that this increases the risk of contracting gout. The Health Professionals Follow-up Study then showed that the larger the amount of alcohol consumed, the greater the risk of a first incident of gout. This study also demonstrated that the risk of contracting gout varied according to the type of spirits consumed, with beer the worst culprit and moderate consumption of wine no threat at all.

Fast Acting Trigger

Now a new study, headed by Yuqing Zhang, has proven that alcohol consumption, no matter the type of spirit consumed, is associated with recurrent attacks of gout. This is the first study that has finally looked at the issue of triggers for recurrent attacks of gout. Before this, doctors had only supposed that alcohol consumption was to blame. Now we have positive proof.  This trigger works fast with a gout attack, which is proven to most likely occur within the first 24 hours after drinking even light to moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages.

There are many suppositions as to why alcohol increases the risk of recurrent gout. Studies have shown that drinking alcoholic beverages makes the liver break down adenosine triphosphates at too high a speed and causes accelerated urate production, too. Other researchers discovered that moonshine tainted with lead can cause chronic renal tubular damage, which can lead to a type of gout that is secondary to chronic lead poisoning. Some alcoholic beverages, for instance beer, contain high levels of purine which is a known risk factor for gout attacks. The main thrust of Zhang's study results is that alcohol causes all these mechanisms to occur within a short time span, perhaps in less than 24 hours after consumption.

Many studies have demonstrated that light to moderate drinking is a risk factor for both coronary heart disease and metabolic syndrome, which are known to be common conditions among those affected with gout. While light to moderate alcohol consumption is known to reduce the risk of certain medical conditions, this newest study on alcohol consumption and gout is persuasive enough that those with gout should avoid alcohol altogether. This would include the avoidance of all alcoholic beverages, since this study found no difference in the effect of various drinks as triggers for recurrent attacks. Zhang and his colleagues hypothesize that it is the amount of ethanol in the beverages, rather than any other components in the different types of drinks, that is responsible for triggering recurrences of gout.