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Arthritis Health Center

Study: Sugary Soda, OJ Raise Gout Risk in Women

Beverage Industry Disputes Study, Says Fructose-Rich Drinks Are Not to Blame for Gout Risk
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Nov. 10, 2010 -- Women who drink one or more servings of sugary soda or orange juice a day may be increasing their risk for developing gout. That’s according to new research presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta. The findings will also be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Still, researchers caution that this increased risk is modest in the face of the overall low rate of gout in women. Often thought of as a disease of overweight, older men, gout occurs when uric acid crystals form in the joints and surrounding tissue, causing intense pain and swelling. Gout attacks tend to recur and frequently affect the big toe, knee, and ankle joints.

"Fructose enhances the production of uric acid," says study author Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, of the Boston University School of Medicine. Choi and colleagues also published similar findings in men.

Animal studies have shown that the effect of fructose on uric acid was not as strong in women as in men, but the new study found this was not the case. "Female hormones seem to protect against the uric acid-raising effects of fructose in animal studies, but this may only be the case in younger women," he says. The new study mainly comprised postmenopausal women, when levels of the female hormones decline. "These women may have lost the hormonal benefit and maybe that is what is going on," he says.

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