Coffee appears to lower the risk of gout

According to the latest research, men who drink several cups of coffee a day reduce their risk of gout.

Canadian scientists suggest that drinking 6 cups of coffee a day can cut the incidence of the disease in men at risk by 40 percent.

The scientists at the University of British Columbia reached this conclusion after looking at the data from two studies, where uric acid levels were measured.

One study over a 12 year period involved 46,000 men, while the other looked at 14,000 men and women over a 6 year period.

The researchers found that while tea did not have an effect on reducing gout, decaffeinated coffee consumption did, which they say indicates that it is unlikely that it is the caffeine in the beverage that keeps uric acid levels down.

Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis, which commonly affects people in their large toe; more men than women are affected by the disease.

The symptoms of gout are often joint pains in the lower limbs, which happen when uric acid crystallises out of the blood into the joints; it has been suggested in the past that the drinking of excessive amounts of beer, or eating too much red meat are thought to cause many cases.

Treatment usually involves anti-inflammatory drugs, a change in diet and drinking more water; in severe cases, powerful drugs are given to reduce uric acid levels in the blood.

Lead researcher Dr. Hyon Choi says while coffee intake may be beneficial in the prevention and management of gout people are not advised to start drinking lots of coffee in order to avoid gout.

The researchers say there is an established link between higher insulin levels and higher uric acid levels; they believe that coffee lowers the insulin levels in the blood.

The results support the findings of a previous but smaller, Japanese study.

Experts however say that high blood uric acid levels does not always cause gout and many people with elevated uric acid levels throughout life never have an attack of gout.

Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world and almost half the U.S. population drink 2 cups each day.

The research is published in the June issue of Arthritis Care and Research.

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