Uric acid is generated as we metabolize the food we eat and as the body's tissues are broken down during normal cell turnover. Some people with gout generate too much uric acid (10% of those affected) and are medically referred to as "over-producers." Other people with gout do not effectively eliminate their uric acid into the urine (90%) and are medically referred to as under-excreters. Genetics (our inherited genes), gender, and nutrition (alcoholism, obesity) play key roles in the development of gout. Gout is not contagious.
- If your parents have gout, then you have a 20% chance of developing it.
- British people are five times more likely to develop gout.
- American blacks, but not African blacks, are more likely to have gout than other populations.
- Intake of alcoholic beverages, especially beer, increases the risk for gout.
- Diets rich in red meats, internal organs, yeast, and oily fish increase the risk for gout.
- Uric acid levels increase at puberty in men and at menopause in women, so men first develop gout at an earlier age (after puberty) than do women (after menopause). Gout in premenopausal women is distinctly unusual.
Attacks of gouty arthritis can be precipitated when there is a sudden change in uric acid levels, which may be caused by
- overindulgence in alcohol and red meats,
- starvation and dehydration,
- IV contrast dyes,
- diuretics and some other anti-hypertensive medications,
- aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin),
- nicotinic acid (B-3-50, B3-500-Gr, Niacin SR, Niacor, Niaspan ER, Slo-Niacin),
- cyclosporin A,
- allopurinol (Zyloprim) and probenecid (Benemid),
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