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Causes of Gout

What causes Gout?

The true cause of gout is high uric acid levels in the blood.  High uric acid levels trigger gout because of the body’s failure to control and regulate the blood’s levels of uric acid. Typically, uric acid breaks down in the blood and is removed through the kidneys.  With gout the body either creates too much uric acid or fails to clear it from the blood.  There are many factors that influence this condition.

An illustration showing how uric acid can lead to gout

Causes of Gout

·     Purine rich foods. Purine is a natural substance found in the body’s cells and in the food consumed.  Uric Acid is produced when the body processes Purines.  When there is too much uric acid, crystals are formed and settle in joints and other areas of the body.  Purine rich foods include red meats, organ meats, shellfish, beans, mushrooms, peas and spinach.
·     Large amounts of alcohol.  Alcohol consumption increases blood uric acid levels.
·     High fructose corn syrup.  High fructose corn syrup is found in many processed foods and sugary beverages. Consumption of HFCS prevents the excretion of uric acid causing a buildup and increased levels of uric acid.
·     Obesity.  Being overweight increases the levels of uric acid in the body.  It can cause increased production of uric acid and reducing the ability of the kidneys to clear uric acid.  Many overweight people have Metabolic syndrome, a precursor to Type II diabetes. This also contributes to the higher levels of uric acid.
·     Medications. Some medications that can increase the levels of uric acid in the blood are low-dose aspirin, diuretics, and immunosuppressant drugs.
·     Heredity.  While genetics plays a minor part in the development of gout, it can be a factor. If your parents have gout you have a 20% greater chance of developing the disease.

Other Factors

The incidence of gout and high uric acid appears to be increasing as well as other diseases like kidney stones and gouty arthritis.  Gout now affects over 6 million Americans.  Dehydration is another factor that increases the levels of uric acid in the blood.
As always consult your health care provider with any questions you may have about this condition.