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Age, Drinking Raise Women's Gout Risk

Study Shows 5 Drinks or More a Week May Triple Risk of Gout in Women
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Older Age, Weight Raise Gout Risk continued...

Beer contains high levels of the chemical purine, which breaks down into uric acid in the body. But it is not clear why beer drinking would pose a higher gout risk for women than for men.

Obesity was associated with a roughly threefold greater risk for gout among both men and women in the study.

Finally, taking estrogen as hormone therapy appeared to lower gout risk in women, but the link was not statistically significant.

Estrogen is believed to lower uric acid levels in the blood, and previous studies have shown hormone therapy can protect against gout, study researcher Hyon Choi, MD, tells WebMD.

Gout Risk and Diet

Many people associate gout with eating large amounts of meat -- especially organ meats, which contain high levels of purine.

But diet was not among the major risk factors identified in the study.

Rheumatologist Patience White, MD, tells WebMD that women and men who want to avoid gout need to watch their weight, blood pressure, and alcohol consumption.

White is chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation and a professor of medicine and pediatrics at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

"Diet plays a role, but it is a drop in the bucket," she says.

She says that more and more women are likely to get gout as the population ages. "Women need to understand that their gout risk goes up after menopause."

White adds that at the population level, women are heavier than they have ever been and they are drinking more alcohol.

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