Enriched Milk May Ease Gout

Drinking Enriched Skim Milk May Curb Painful Gout Flare-ups

By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan. 23, 2012 -- Drinking a daily dose of enriched skim milk may help reduce gout flare-ups.

A new study shows that people who drank an enriched skim milk shake made from powdered milk and additional dairy components had fewer gout attacks and less painful symptoms.

Previous research has already shown that people whose diet is low in dairy products are more likely to develop gout.

But researchers say this is the first short-term study to show adding dairy products to the diets of people already diagnosed with gout can reduce gout attacks and symptoms.

Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden attacks of burning pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint, usually a big toe. It occurs when there is too much uric acid in the body.

Normally, the kidneys rid the body of excess uric acid in the form of urine. But when the body produces too much uric acid or the kidneys aren't functioning properly, the uric acid can form hard crystals in the joints.

Dairy Fights Gout

Dietary changes are often recommended to prevent and treat gout. For instance, it is frequently recommended that people with gout avoid certain foods such as meat and seafood.

In this study, researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand looked at the effects of drinking a skim milk powder enriched with two dairy components, glycomacropeptide (GMP) and G600 milk fat extract (G600), on the frequency of gout attacks in 102 people.

The people were divided into three groups. They drank either the enriched milk powder, a plain skim milk powder, or a lactose powder mixed with water as a vanilla-flavored shake each day.

After three months, the frequency of gout attacks dropped in all three groups. But those who drank the enriched skim milk had a significantly bigger reduction in gout attacks than those in the other two groups.

The enriched skim milk group also had more improvements in pain-related gout symptoms, fewer tender joints, and lower levels of uric acid in their urine.

The researchers write that this study shows the need for more clinical trials to support dietary recommendations (such as dairy) for gout.

Some of the researchers of this study are inventors in a patent application related to milk products and gout.

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SOURCES: Dalbeth, N. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, published Jan. 23, 2012.News release, British Medical Journals.WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise: "Gout."

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