The Connection Between Coffee and Gout

Many people in the world happen to be coffee drinkers, but what they may not know is that consistent coffee consumption could help lower their risk of experiencing gout attacks.

Overall coffee and gout have a unique relationship where coffee consumption can either be a good thing or a bad thing for those who suffer from gout.

Coffee can be a good thing because of its caffeine contents, but it can be a bad thing for those who are just getting used to drinking coffee daily.Woman Drinking Coffee

Coffee has been known to lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer.

How Coffee Can Be Helpful

A study based in the United States and Canada was conducted over a period of 12 years, and this study centered around the relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of having a gout attack.

An estimated total of 46,000 men that had no history with gout were tested, and what was assessed every 4 years through validated interviews was the consumption of coffee, decaffeinated and with caffeine, tea and total caffeine.

The results of this study indicated a strong connection between coffee and gout. Out of 46,000 men that were tested 757 of them confirmed to have incident cases of gout.

The increased rate of drinking coffee was linked to the risk of gout. The team of doctors conducting this study concluded that the more coffee men drank the less likely they were to have a gout attack.

In these tests coffee of all caffeination levels outperformed tea in every way, though decaffeinated coffee also helped reduce the risk of gout.

This study showed that the risk of gout was lowered only by 8% when one to three cups of coffee daily were consumed.

Four our five cups of daily coffee consumption lowered the risk of gout by 40%, and for those who drank six or more cups of coffee daily lowered their risk of gout by nearly 60%.

Dr. Hyon K. Choi and his team at the University of British Columbia were responsible for conducting this 2007 study.

They have noted that large amounts of a very strong antioxidant in phenol chlorogenic acid can be found in coffee. Chlorogenic acid is very helpful in lowering insulin levels.

There is a strong connection between insulin and uric acid, particularly in their levels within the human body.

It takes the combination of two proteins for the body to produce uric acid, which are xanthine and hypoxanthine. Uric acid is constantly created and then broken down to maintain reasonable uric acid levels.

Three compounds from the xanthine family can be found in coffee, which are theobromine, theophylline and caffeine.

Choi’s study has made it apparent that coffee and gout have a closer relationship than what people initially believe.

While caffeinated coffee was the core focus of Choi’s study, it turned out that decaffeinated coffee did just as good a job in helping men lower their risk of having gout attacks.

Men who drank one to three cups of decaffeinated coffee lowered their risk of gout by 33% while those who drank four or more cups of decaf per day lowered their gout risk by 27%.

Daily consumption of coffee will give your body a regular supply of xanthines that are needed for uric acid production.

At the start your body will make excess uric acid, but once your body detects the excess it will suppress the production of uric acid by using other mechanisms.

In another study drinking coffee has been reported to be linked with lowered serum uric acid levels in Japanese men.

In an extension of their original study, Choi’s team noted that demethylation metabolizes caffeine and the major human pathway results in paraxanthine.

Choi’s team summarized by saying that caffeine may reduce the risk of gout by way of xanthine oxidase inhibition in humans.

Coffee can be easily incorporated into a daily diet that is catered to treat gout.

In fact the Mayo Clinic recommends the consumption of caffeinated coffee as being part of the diet as they list coffee as an option to have during breakfast.

How Coffee Can Be Harmful

On the flip side while caffeine intake lowers insulin sensitivity in humans, this may indirectly increase the risk of having a gout attack.

People can have an increased risk of gout if they don’t consistently drink coffee.

Dr. Tuhina Neogi, associate professor of medicine epidemiology at the Boston University School of Medicine, ran a study in 2010.

According to the study, people who suddenly increased their consumption of caffeinated drinks became more likely to have gout attacks.

The reason for the increased risk of gout lies in the fact that caffeine has a similar structure to that of allopurinal, a drug that fights gout.

Neogi states that when allopurinal is initially taken by people, the risk of gout attacks increases because the uric acid is mobilized from body tissues.

It is only after a period of time where the body gets used to caffeine intake that the risk of gout attacks starts decreasing.

Neogi also states that as the number of servings of caffeinated drinks increased, so too did the risk of experiencing recurring gout attacks.

There is validity behind the concern of drinking coffee to treat gout. Caffeine contains minimal amounts of deoxpurine.

High purine intake is known to increase a person’s risk of developing gout, and some medical experts are led to theorize that caffeine could accidentally trigger gout attacks.

One of the metabolites of caffeine that is found in urine called methyluric acid has been known to trigger gout attacks, but only on rare occasion.

Another View: Coffee Is Just Okay

A meta-analysis conducted by Dr. Shin-Young Kim and colleagues at Ajou University in Suwon, South Korea concludes that regular coffee consumption does lead to a decreased risk of gout, but the magnitude of its effect is minimal.

According to Yim out of a combined total of 175,310 subjects who participated in nine studies from 1999 to 2014, there turned out to be gender differences.

Women are in need of more daily coffee consumption than men, needing to drink 4 to 6 cups of coffee per day as opposed to 1 to 3 cups.

Compared to Choi’s and Neogi’s studies, Yim suggests that the impact coffee has in lowering gout risks  is smaller than that of drugs like allopurinol.

Yim states that for every 100 mg of allopurinol that is consumed, uric acid was decreased by 1 mg. In comparison coffee decreased uric acid by 0.36 mg, even with the highest amount of daily consumption.

A separate meta-analysis was reviewed by another team of doctors led by Yi Zhang, and the results suggested that there was no significant difference between the highest and lowest levels of coffee intake concerning the serum uric acid level and hyperuricaemia.

However, when testing centered around gout there was an inverse association between drinking coffee and the occurrence of gout.

Conclusion

Taking all of the above findings into consideration, coffee is generally safe to drink when it comes to treating gout. If you are not an avid coffee drinker then you may experience some problems.

If you have been constantly drinking coffee before you started developing gout attacks then you won’t have anything to worry about.

There is nothing wrong with trying to drink coffee in order to treat gout, but it is recommended that if you commit to drinking coffee you should start drinking it on a consistent basis.

References:
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17530645
2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/art.22712
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/gout-diet/art-20048524
4. http://blog.arthritis.org/gout/coffee-gout/
5. https://www.medpagetoday.com/rheumatology/generalrheumatology/55907
6. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/6/7/e009809

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