might be gout if your big toe feels like it’s broken and
just the thought of a sheet touching it makes you break
out into a cold sweat. The gout toe pain can be extreme
Researchers have suspected for many years that gout, a
form of inflammatory arthritis, was linked to the
consumption of alcohol. However, the theory was never
proved until the first large epidemiological study was
conducted to determine whether alcohol could be linked
Results of the research on gout and alcohol was
conducted by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital,
and published recently in The Lancet. They found alcohol
consumption does trigger an increased production of uric
acid, the cause of gout. Gout affects the joints of both
men and women leaving them with painful and swollen
The association between alcohol consumption and gout was
suspected for hundreds of years and incidence of gout
has risen for the past several decades due possibly to
changes in diet such as people consuming more red meat,
becoming more sedentary and drinking beer.
The study on how alcohol increases gout risk involved
47,000 men. They concluded men who over-indulge in some
forms alcohol --particularly beer -- are at heightened
risk for gout.
Scientists say alcohol may affect both uric acid removal
and production. They have found when alcohol is
converted to lactic acid; it reduces the amount of uric
acid that is removed from the body through the kidneys.
The lactic acid, in a sense, competes with the uric acid
for removal from the kidneys.
Researchers studying the link between alcohol and gout
followed the men over the course of 12 years. They found
increased levels of alcohol in the body increases
production of uric acid.
The findings on alcohol and gout risk were shocking: 730
of the 47,000 men developed gout. Men who drank 50 grams
or two or more alcohol servings (in the form of beers)
per day were 2.5 times more likely to develop gout than
those who did not drink. When alcohol was consumed in
the form of two shots of spirits per day, the risk of
gout increased by 1.6 times compared with no spirit
Indeed, if you are going to consume alcohol, researchers
suggest some forms of alcohol are less risky when it
comes to gout than others. Beer consumption as the
choice of alcohol showed the strongest association with
the risk of gout. Meanwhile, subjects who drank spirits
as their alcohol had a weaker association or risk.
Moderate wine consumption was not associated with
increased grout risk.
During the study of the link between gout and alcohol,
researchers used standard portions to measure alcohol
consumption: 1 Shot (44ml) of spirits - containing 14.0g
of ethanol (alcohol); 12oz (355ml) bottle or can of beer
- containing 12.8g of ethanol (alcohol) and 4 oz (118ml)
glass of wine - containing 11.0g of ethanol (alcohol).
Their findings indicated the risk of gout was
significantly raised with alcohol intake as low as
10.0-14.9g per day. Comparing the subjects to people who
abstain from alcohol, researchers found alcohol
consumption can raise the risk of gout: 10-15g per day
increased risk by 30 percent; 15-30g per day increased
risk by 50 percent; 30-50g per day increased risk by 100
percent and more than 50g per day increased risk by 150
Researchers continue to debate the meaning of the study
on alcohol and gout. Some argue there might be a
non-alcoholic ingredient in beer that contributes to the
increase risk of gout. They note the fact that beer is
the only alcoholic drink to contain purines, chemicals
that play a key role in gout.
While researchers point to the role of purines, many
physicians point out that the evidence is not conclusive
with regard to purines playing a role in gout. In fact,
in one study of Taiwanese vegetarians who ate a diet
that is high in purines, the subjects showed a reduced
risk of developing gout toe issues.
Some experts suspect the reason beer drinkers have a
higher risk than other people who consume alcohol has
more to do with lifestyle factors. For example, a person
who drinks beer might be at increased risk for gout
simply because he is coach potato who opts for a
sedentary lifestyle. People who drink wine as their
alcohol of choice might be more health-conscious
overall, choosing to drink their alcohol with fruits,
vegetables and lean vegetable proteins as opposed to a
beer drinker who has a high-fat hot dog and fries.
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