Rise In Gout Blamed On Fructose In Soft Drinks

Gout sounds like something characters in Dickens novels get, but apparently it’s a modern affliction as well—at least in the U.S. where the number of cases has doubled in the past few decades. Now researchers are saying that “Men who consume two or more sugary soft drinks a day have an 85% higher risk of gout compared with those who drink less than one a month.”

To look in more detail, the team carried out a 12-year study of 46,000 men aged 40 years and over with no history of gout, asking them regular questionnaires about their diet.

Over the period, 755 newly diagnosed cases of gout were reported.

The risk of developing the condition was significantly increased with an intake level of five to six servings of sugary soft drink per week.

This link was independent of other risk factors for gout such as body mass index, age, high blood pressure and alcohol intake.

Diet soft drinks did not increase the risk of gout but fruit juice and fructose rich fruits (apples and oranges) were associated with a higher risk, the researchers said.

Until now, most anti-gout advice consisted of having men cut back on foods rich in purine like beer and meat, and asking them to not live in Victorian times. But now those with “severe treatment failure gout” may want to consider limiting how much soda they drink.

“Gout surge blamed on sweet drinks” [BBC News]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. Weird. Cherry juice is actually good for uric acid removal from the body. Damn horrible disease though. Had my first flare up when I was 20, and until recently ::knocks on wood::, I had one every year.

  2. K-Bo says:

    being as the difference between 1 a month and 2+ a day is like 6000+ empty calories a month (assuming 100 calories a drink) it probably increases your risk of many other health problems too.

  3. jchabotte says:

    I have what might be gout.. my uric acid level ishigh on the normal side.. but my uncle who has it, says that he can’t even have a sheet of linens touch his foot without severe pain, yet here i am, with my foot wrapped up and a splint around my ankle.. weird.

  4. headon says:

    Thats a bit of a stretch two or more a day vs less than one per month. I would find another study to quote. This one sounds like it should get a real high score on the bullshit-o-meter.

  5. EmperorOfCanada says:

    It was worth reading simply for the quote

    “Until now, most anti-gout advice consisted of having men cut back on foods rich in purine like beer and meat, and asking them to not live in Victorian times.”

    That’s comedy =p

  6. majortom1981 says:

    There are better reasons to avoid high fructose corn syrup and soda. ONe is the calories you will be saving by not drinking them in the first place.

  7. @headon: Well, anyone who suffers will literally grab onto ANY way to stop attacks. There will be many who follow this advice, I am sure. Even when I stopped drinking soda, and switched to seltzer, I still had flare-ups. Uric Acid, which is what causes the attack, is a natural break down product from many body processes and substances, such as RNA.

  8. TWinter says:

    @headon: Did you ever stop to consider that the problem is the way the study is quoted?
    Journalists regularly (read almost always) quote studies in ways that distort research methodologies. I suspect that they are just mentioning figures for the highest consumption group and the lowest consumption group in the study because that’s where you see the huge difference.

    There are lots of bullshit studies out there, but you shouldn’t declare a study bullshit based on one journalist’s summary of it.

  9. FLConsumer says:

    I wish we’d stop the sugar import tariffs that cause most food manufacturers in this country to use the cheaper synthetic high-fructose corn syrup instead of real sugar.

  10. floydianslip6 says:

    @majortom1981: fructose is not necessarily equivalent to high-fructose corn syrup. This study also sites fruit juice and oranges and apples as possible problems as well. While in regards to soft drinks they are most likely referring to corn syrup, the gout issue arises just because of the fructose.

    It’s early and I may not have explained that well…

  11. floydianslip6 says:

    Round 2:
    High Fructose Corn Syrup: usually 55% fructose 45% glucose

    Regular Sugar (sucrose): 50% fructose 50% glucose

    Maybe that makes what I was trying to say clearer.. I’m still a bit foggy today.

  12. Pasketti says:

    I stopped drinking fizzy drinks about a year or so ago. I lost 15 pounds almost immediately. And I only drank maybe three or four a week.

  13. Pasketti says:

    @floydianslip6: The difference is that sucrose is a disaccharide, with the glucose and fructose chemically bonded together, and requires an enzyme to split it up before the body can process it. With HFCS, it’s ready to process immediately.

  14. satoru says:

    Uhh did anyone bother to ask these people if they ate fish. Gout is a disease caused by an iodine deficiency. This was pretty rampant in the old days. The main problem was that you had to take in really small amounts of iodine on a daily basis for it to be effective. Thus iodized salt, which was specifically introduced to combat gout in areas where fish was hard to obtain or not part of the regular diet. Since everyone used salt, everyone got iodine and gout basically disappeared overnight.

    I wonder if the anti-sodium craze is causing people to not use iodized salt. Which then basically increases your chances of gout? Though the article does mention that fructose might decrease the effectiveness of gout treatment, which is an entirely different thing than saying fructose causes gout.

  15. satoru says:

    @floydianslip6: Corn syrup is an entirely American thing. No one outside of America uses corn syrup on such a large scale due to the fact that corn is actually very expensive to grow. You don’t notice it because your hard earned tax dollars go to basically subsidize nearly 90% of corn production. Way to go Iowa and corn lobbyists.

  16. burgundyyears says:

    @satoru: You’re thinking of goiter, not gout.

  17. burgundyyears says:

    @satoru: And sugar imports are tariffed. Don’t forget that too.

  18. yesteryear says:

    gout is a disease that most folks really don’t understand so i doubt this will inspire men (or anyone) to quit drinking their precious sodie pops. especially the weird zombies who are addicted to diet coke. do you know one? they are everywhere.

    there are other more convincing reasons that should be publicized: i quit drinking soda about 8 years ago and i lost weight and improved my dental health because HFCS literally corrodes your teeth. the unintended benefit of all this was that i also suddenly found out how easy it is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day when you’re not sucking down a dr. pepper every chance you get… and water’s free.

  19. @satoru: Hey, hey, hey! The Illinois corn lobby works hard too! Iowa shouldn’t get ALL the credit! :P

  20. Dervish says:

    @Pasketti: Yes, but many soft drinks that use sugar are acidic enough to cause a significant portion of the sucrose molecules to break down into fructose and glucose without the aid of sucrase.

    @satoru: If I remember correctly, sugar and HFCS are becoming more equivalent in price. I thought I’ve read before that even if sugar becomes significantly cheaper it’s unlikely that we’ll switch back as a country because the industry infrastructure is set up to use HFCS.

  21. Buran says:

    @Dervish: If stories like this continue, it won’t be. Informing the public is a very powerful thing and once word gets out, the demand for natural sugar will go up and companies that don’t make their products with it will lose business.

    I already buy cane-sugar soda as much as possible when I want soda over fruit juice, which I also buy in 100% juice form since a lot of fruit juice also contains HFCS. The only place I drink regular soda these days is at work or other places where I can’t get my hands on some “real” soda.

    You can also look for “Passover Coke”, Mexican Coke, Jones Soda, Dublin Dr. Pepper, or other cane sugar variants… I buy Fitz’s Root Beer and Orange Cream, which are made in a local (as in here in St. Louis; actually, in the suburb I grew up in) soda microbrewery.

    More healthy than the mass-market stuff + local business support = yay!

  22. courtarro says:

    @Buran: Indeed, the beet sugar-based (sucrose) Coca Cola I had in France was one of the best Cokes I’d ever had. I’ve also sampled Mexican and Passover Coke, (both cane sugar-based) and they are both an improvement over the HFCS stuff we have in the US.

    I try to limit my soft drink consumption in general, but I love my Coca Cola, so I have started stocking up when the Passover Coke (denoted by a yellow cap) appears on shelves each year. It took me a while to find the right stores, but those in the primarily Jewish areas of town are always well-stocked.

  23. Dervish says:

    @Buran: I agree that sucrose-based soda tastes much better than HFCS based. Like Courtarro, I thought regular coke in Europe tastes much better than in America – I normally can’t even drink the HFCS based stuff.

    But…I don’t yet buy that sugar is a health improvement over HFCS, and I won’t until there are legitimate scientific studies, conducted against sucrose controls, that back up that hypothesis.

  24. @yesteryear: One attack will convince anyone to seek ways to change their diet. Trust me.

    @satoru: Fish are fine. It is shellfish which are bad for gout. As are organ meats. Alcohol is bad because unlike most crystals, Uric Acid actually does not dissolve in alcohol, but rather, comes out of solution. This leads to the crystals gathering on a susceptible joint, and causing the god-awful painful inflammation.

  25. Dervish says:

    @courtarro: This might be painfully obvious, but I’ve had a lot of luck finding sucrose based coke (and soda in general) at supermercados around town. Even our local superchain occasionally stocks it – in addition to the marked-up passover stuff.

  26. Rusted says:

    @majortom1981: I need calories but soda made with HFCS is just nasty, thin and bitter. Been spoiled by the good stuff overseas.

    @Buran: I saw a glimpse of an ad touting non HFCS drinks on the boob tube. Seems it will be a good selling point.

  27. Amry says:

    Did anyone bother asking these men if they’d been eating chicken liver sandwiches at the new deli in town?

    And additionally, ever since reading about it here a while back, I stop into Hispanic markets every now and then looking for the sugar-based Coke, and I can NEVER find it. What gives? Am I too far from Mexico to think that they’d stock it here?

  28. @Amry: First Sentence:
    To look in more detail, the team carried out a 12-year study of 46,000 men aged 40 years and over with no history of gout, asking them regular questionnaires about their diet.

  29. Amry says:

    @GitEmSteveDave:

    It was a reference to a King of the Hill episode, in which Bobby becomes addicted to chicken liver sandwiches, develops gout, and gets a rascal scooter. I was trying to be hilarious. I failed.

  30. chagasi says:

    Strange… It has doubled in the past three decades… That is funny, the number of men above 50 has probably doubled in the past three decades… This is also what is called a “longitudinal” study and is basically bullshit.

  31. Doctor Cathattan says:

    I got my first gout attack last year in October (I’m 36). It was extremely painful and made all the more stressful by the fact that I was only three days away from going on a vacation!

    In my desperation I searched the Internet and came across this site:
    [www.icuredmygout.org]

    This guy details how drinking a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) solution actually cured his gout(!) I tried this out and by the time it was for me to fly out I was walking normally again, albeit with a slight ache in my foot. I’ve been taking baking soda 2x a day since then and I have not had another attack in three months. I still feel some slight pressure in my foot, but nothing close to the pain I was feeling last year.

  32. Shadowman615 says:

    There was an episode of King of the Hill where Bobby got gout from eating too much liver pate from a deli. Are these guys eating liver pate with their high-fructose drinks?

    ;)

  33. HOP says:

    my bride has a nasty case of gout….it has affected her fingers with big ugly lumps that are very tender….so far nothing has worked to alleviate her condition…she is seeing a specialist…..

  34. BeastMasterJ says:

    I call BS. I cut WAAAAY back on soft drinks in summmer 2007, and Since then, I’ve have 2 nasty attacks, the kind that kept me home from work for at least 2 days because I couldn’t walk.

    What causes gout? just about friggin’ anything. Stress, spicy food, meat, beer, family history, looking in the mirror and saying “Gouty Mary” ten times.

    But cutting soft drinks DID help me to lose 10 pounds without even trying. So that’s good.

  35. RenardRouge says:

    Don’t drink soda-pop. There’s nothing good to be gained from it that you can’t get from another, better-for-you source.

  36. themediatrix says:

    Mmmm…Mexican Coke!

  37. @Amry: Sorry. Dang it Dale.