Does Coffee Have A Positive Or Negative Effect On Gout Attacks?

When it comes to preventing gout, coffee can be both an enemy and an ally. It’s a strange thing, but coffee contains certain elements that can help lower your risk of gout, but it also includes the one thing that can increase your chances as well.

Regular coffee consumption has been considered good for your health in many different ways. It’s been linked to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer. But should you consider it an aid in reducing your chances of gout?

It all comes down to whether or not you’ve been consuming coffee on a regular basis for a long period of time. The effects of coffee and its relation to gout reduction are seen to have a positive effect over time.

However, those who are new to daily coffee consumption may find themselves at a higher risk of gout. Let’s take a look as to why.

The positive effects coffee can have against gout

Back in 2007, a study was conducted that looked at the potential correlation between coffee consumption and running the risk of gout.

This US/Canada-based study looked at nearly 46,000 male medical professionals, specifically looking at their intake of coffee and tea.

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Over the 12 years that this study was conducted, almost 800 of the 46,000 developed gout. Now, based on the dietary information that was provided, the team was able to find that the more coffee that was consumed, the less likely the participants were to suffer from gout.

And here’s what’s really interesting: coffee has something in it that decreases your chance of gout, but regular tea does not. While tea didn’t seem to have any kind of long-lasting effect towards reducing your risk of gout, coffee of all levels of caffeination did!

(By the way, I’m not talking about herbal teas. You should read up if you want to learn about the healthy benefits that are found within many herbal teas!)

Coffee with higher levels of caffeination had a higher chance of reduction, but caffeine didn’t seem to be the deciding factor as decaffeinated coffee reduced risk as well.

So what does coffee contain that reduces the risk of gout?

Unfortunately, the exact component within coffee that reduces risk of gout can’t be pinpointed, but that doesn’t stop the genius minds behind this study from trying.

And speaking of genius minds, this study was conducted by Dr. Hyon K. Choi, one of the forerunners in identifying gout’s beginnings and hopefully its end.

Choi and his team have noted that coffee contains a large amount of phenol chlorogenic acid, a very strong antioxidant.

Chlorogenic acid, among other antioxidants are helpful in reducing your insulin levels. One thing you may not know is that insulin and uric acid are strongly connected, specifically in their levels within your body.

(If you’re unfamiliar with uric acid, we suggest that you read up on our article that dives into its effect on your body. It’s one of the reasons gout can flare within your joints and kidneys.)

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As chlorogenic acid reduces levels of insulin, uric acid tends to do the same. As one lowers, so does the other.

Once more, there was a study in that took this exact concept and put it to the test. Dr. Choi, at it again, found that individuals who consumed several cups of coffee in any given day had lower uric acid levels. Lower uric acid levels mean a reduced risk of gout!

The negative effects coffee can have against gout

While a long-term consumer of coffee may have a reduced their risk of gout, that isn’t the case for those who are just picking up the habit.

A study that was conducted in 2010 proved that those who begin consuming coffee after not having been a heavy user before actually increase their risk of gout. The study was conducted by Dr. Thuina Neogi of Boston University School of Medicine and her findings may surprise you.

You may be wondering how can that be. Something that has benefits in the long-term may be harmful in the short-term? Dr. Neogi’s findings were that a sudden intake of caffeine can be incredibly detrimental towards running the risk of gout.

Specifically, those who drank two or fewer servings of a caffeinated beverage per day raise their immediate (24-hour) risk of a gout flare up by 40%. This number only climbs to 80% if you drink three to four servings of caffeine!

Those patients who were used to caffeine being in their system ran a lower risk of a gout attack than those who weren’t used to having caffeine in their system, some of which were tripling their risk for an attack.

Why is caffeine a risk factor for gout in the short-term?

Caffeine, that perfect substance that helps you get up and go, it’s very similar in chemical structure to a medication called allopurinol. This may be an unknown to you, so allow me to explain.

Allopurinol is a medication that’s used to treat gout by lowering the uric acid levels in the body, but it shocks the system in the short-term. It’s an incredibly effective drug in the long-term, but allopurinol can trigger an attack of gout for those who are taking it for the first time.

It’s through this reasoning that Dr. Neogi believes caffeine causes the same short-term effect.

It’s important to remember the coffee, even the decaffeinated kind can be very beneficial towards preventing an attack of gout. This needs to be taken into consideration with the fact that if you’re a long-time drinker of caffeinated coffee–at least two servings a day, you’re only increasing the benefit it can have.

However, if you drink decaffeinated coffee or you stay away from the stuff altogether, it may be best to keep caffeine out of your system as it has a chance of spurring an attack of gout.

And most importantly, a healthy lifestyle is the best way to combat gout. Caffeine and the intake of coffee may have its effect, but nothing can overcome flare-ups of gout like proper diet and exercise. Your consumption of that get-up-and-go should ride backseat to eating right and taking care of yourself.

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17530645
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.22712/pdf
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20101108/Caffeine-intake-increases-risk-for-recurrent-gout-attacks.aspx
http://www.commed.vcu.edu/Chronic_Disease/arthritis/CMEGoout.pdf