Gout, a type of arthritis, is affecting more people in the United States today. According to MedlinePlus, 3.9 percent of the population, or 8.1 million Americans suffered from gout in 2008, an increase from the 2.7 percent who experienced gout attacks in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A build of urate crystals in the joints, most notably the big toe, causes the pain, selling and redness of gout. While obesity and high blood pressure may increase the risk of gout, researchers recently have implicated soda, but not diet soda, as a possible gout trigger.
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Urate crystals form in people who have high levels of uric acid in their blood. The breakdown of purines found in food and also produced naturally by your body leads to uric acid production. Fructose, the sugar found in sweetened soft drinks as well as other drinks, such as fruit juice, is the only sugar linked to an increased risk of gout, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. Because diet soda does not contain fructose, drinking diet soda does not increase your risk of developing gout.
A study conducted by the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada and reported in the January 15, 2008 issues of “Arthritis and Rheumatism” examined the connection between soft drinks and uric acid. The study, reported by rheumatologist Hyong Choi, M.D. examined data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between1988–1994. The review found that serum uric acid levels rose in proportion to the number of soft drinks consumed per day. People who drank orange juice daily had a modest increase in uric acid levels as well. Fructose accelerates purine synthesis, while other simple sugars do not, according to the report. Diet sodas did not increase uric acid levels.
The Arthritis Research Centre of Canada also published a report in the January 2008 “British Journal of Medicine” which examined data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which followed 46,393 men for a 12-year period. This study found that men who drank two or more servings of soda containing fructose each day were 85 percent more likely to develop gout than those who rank only one serving per month, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports. Men who drank just one soda per day increased their risk by 45 percent, according to the study. Fructose-rich juices as well as fruits also increased the risk of developing gout, but diet sodas did not.
Drinking diet soda rather than soda containing fructose may reduce your risk of developing gout. Drinking diet soda will cut calories as well, which can lead to weight loss and a decrease in another risk factor for gout---obesity.