Gout and Diabetes

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on September 25, 2023
3 min read

Gout and diabetes are two different health problems, but if you have one, you’re more likely to get the other.

Gout is a type of arthritis that happens when a substance called uric acid builds up in your blood. It causes joint pain, especially in the big toe.

Type 2 diabetes happens when your body doesn’t make or use enough insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly why gout and diabetes are related.

Gout causes inflammation in the body. Some experts believe inflammation may also play a role in diabetes.

On the other hand, people with type 2 diabetes often have high levels of uric acid in their blood, which could be due to extra fat. If you’re overweight, your body creates more insulin. That makes it harder for your kidneys to get rid of uric acid, which may lead to gout. 

Some recent research has shown just how strong the link is between the two conditions.

In one study, researchers looked at the health records of people who participated in the Framingham Heart Study, a research project on heart disease that started in 1948. They found those with higher uric acid levels in their blood were more likely to get type 2 diabetes. Specifically, for every 1 milligram per deciliter (mg/dL) rise in uric acid, the chance of diabetes went up by 20%.

Another report included more than 35,000 people with gout. Scientists found that women with gout were 71% more likely to get diabetes. Men with gout had a 22% higher chance.

Many of the same things can make your chances of having gout or diabetes go up. You may be more likely to get them if you:

  • Are overweight or obese. If you carry extra fat on your body, you’re more likely to have both gout and type 2 diabetes.
  • Drink too much alcohol. Moderate amounts of alcohol -- one drink a day for women and men over 65 and two for men 65 and younger -- may actually lower your chances of getting diabetes. But too much can affect how your pancreas releases insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. More than two drinks a day can also up your odds of gout.
  • Have a family history of them. If one of your family members has had gout or diabetes, you’re more likely to get these diseases, too.
  • Have other health problems. High cholesterol and high blood pressure are linked to both conditions. 

It’s important to keep your uric acid and blood sugar under control if you have gout and diabetes or want to keep from having them.

Your habits and lifestyle are some of the best ways to do that:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Include foods that are low in calories and fat, but high in fiber, to lower your risk of diabetes. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are best. To protect against gout, you may want to avoid red meat, shellfish, sugary foods and drinks, and alcohol, especially beer. Low-fat dairy foods might protect you from gout, so keep them on the menu.  
  • Lose weight. Less body fat can lower your uric acid levels and improve your blood sugar. But don’t fast or try a crash diet. Quick weight loss can raise uric acid.
  • Exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Exercise can help you stay at a healthy weight, which makes gout and diabetes less likely. 
  • Manage other health issues. If you have other problems, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or kidney disease, make sure to take care of them. Follow your doctor’s instructions, and take all of your medicines.