It's Not Just the Men

Women At Risk

Gout has been considered to be a disease more prevalent in men than women. Often called the disease of kings because of its association with alcohol and rich foods, gout certainly does show up a lot in men. However, postmenopausal women have as great a risk for developing gout as men do according to a team of investigators who presented a report to the American College of Rheumatology.

Postmenopausal women, who are obese, have hypertension or who are on a treatment which features diuretics have an increased risk of gout that is on par with men. As a result, the same preventative measures suggested for men should apply also to women.

Treatment Strategies

Hyon Choi, MD, DrPH, an associate professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada was the principal investigator who spearheaded the study when he was working at Massachusetts General Hospital as the director of outcomes research. "The same treatment strategies for reducing these risk factors in men should be applicable to women," he said. "Because gout is one of the most painful conditions experienced by human beings, modifying the risk factors for gout would not only be beneficial generally but would reduce considerable morbidity by reducing the risk of gout alone."

The Testing

Despite the fact that gout has been rising in incidence among women, the need for a large population-based study was deemed necessary to assess risk factors for gout in women. The Nurses' Health Study, which followed 92,224 women without a baseline gout history was used as the data source. Obesity, hypertension and diuretic use were all found to be risk factors for men, and the study showed them to be risk factors for women as well.

The study began in 1980 and participants filled out questionnaires every two years relative to their weight, BMI, physician-diagnosed medical conditions and use of medications which included diagnosis of hypertension and the use of diuretics. Dietary and alcohol consumption were included as well. At the end of 24 years of follow-up it was noted that in those women with high BMI, the risk for gout increased as it did with hypertension and the use of diuretics.

The Study Proves It

The risk factors for women who are obese or morbidly obese are cause for reinforcing the literature informing of the negative health outcomes associated with obesity. It was noted that it is important to advise women to avoid the risk of gout by losing weight and to treat hypertension with means other than diuretics.