There is some good news for coffee drinkers. For those in the habit of drinking at least 2 cups per day, and are men aged 40 and above, you can take some cheer from recent research which shows that regular coffee consumption can reduce the risk of developing gout.
The June 2007 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism Journal contains the report of a study conducted on over 45,869 men all aged over 40 who had no history of gout at the start of the study in 1986. The researchers then tracked all of the subjects to monitor if there was a relationship between the occurrence of gout and the consumption of coffee. As commonly observed, gout is especially likely to occur among men 40 years old and above.
The study concludes that the evidence strongly suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day reduces the chances of developing gout for men. Coffee has been shown to have complex effects on the human body. For instance, coffee or certain substances found in coffee, appear to lower the levels of insulin and uric acid. Diabetics will not like the idea of lower insulin, but gout sufferers will welcome the thought of lower uric acid.
The research team developed a questionnaire that measured food-intake frequency. The consumption of coffee and total caffeine was monitored in the study. Participants answered the questionnaire every four years, and chose from 9 different responses for intake, ranging from no intake, to 2-4 cups a week, to 6-plus cups a day. This questionnaire thus recorded the consumption of beverages such as coffee, decaf coffee, tea and cola – all of which contain caffeine.
For comparison, another questionnaire also recorded the behaviour of 757 patients newly diagnosed for gout. From these data, among others, they calculated the relative risk of occurrence of gout among the coffee drinkers, divided into groups corresponding to average intake per day. In addition, other factors that contribute to the development of gout were documented, including: body mass index, to check for overweight; alcohol consumption; consumption of red meat and high-fat foods; and medical history including hypertension.
The most significant findings in the study showed that as coffee consumption increased, the likelihood of developing gout decreased. For instance, the probabilities were 40 percent less among men who consumed 4-5 cups per day but 59 percent less for those who finished 6 or more cups.
Tea and total caffeine consumption did not show any appreciable effect. This led researchers to speculate that caffeine was not the substance responsible for coffee’s beneficial effects on preventing gout. It could be chlorogenic acid, a phenol compound in coffee that acts as a strong antioxidant, they said.
The researchers made clear that they are not recommending for individuals to start consuming more coffee. But it helps you develop a more informed choice about coffee and its consumption.
Gout is one of the most treatable forms of arthritis, and with proper treatment, you need not have any long-term consequences. Medications are available to relieve the pain and inflammation of acute bouts of gouty arthritis. For long-term care, you may need to take medications to treat the underlying metabolic disorder along with making such lifestyle changes as avoiding alcohol (primarily beer) and foods high in purines and increasing intake of dairy foods.
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