If you are male, older than 40, and have a family history of gout, you may have reason to worry about this very painful form of arthritis. But if you're worried about your coffee intake and the likelihood that it will contribute to a gout flare-up, you can put your mind at ease.
Drinking coffee does not make you more likely to have gout. In fact, recent research points toward a lowered risk of gout if you imbibe in a few cups of java throughout the day.
Predispositions to Gout
While it is believed that gout has some genetic components, as the risk of developing it is about one in five with family history, other components come into play as well. For instance, more men than women get gout, and though gout is predominantly a disease of adults, some children have been known to develop it.
Obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension also play a part in the development of gout, as do hormones. Reportedly, due to estrogen hormones, more women develop the disease following menopause.
Interestingly, a high concentration of lead in the body can also lead to gout. When the diet consists of high consumption of purine-rich foods and liquids, gout risk rises. Purines are a common food component that turns into uric acid. An imbalance of uric acid can lead to gout flare up. Coffee does have purine chemicals in it, and was originally thought of as a component in recurrent gout attacks.
However, after further research, it has been determined that coffee actually breaks down uric acid very quickly and effectively, thereby helping rather than adding to the problem. The ingredient in coffee responsible for breaking down uric acid, or causing uric acid levels to drop, is an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid.
Since coffee is perhaps the most popular drink of choice by adults in America, this is great news. A few cups of coffee will not put you at higher risk of gout; it will, in fact, do the opposite.
How Much Coffee Should I Consume?
A recent Canadian study determined that drinking approximately 4 cups of coffee per day led to a 40 to 60 percent lowered risk of developing gout. While decaffeinated coffee did not score as high, it can also lower the risk of gout. Therefore, it was determined that caffeinated products are not a culprit of gout flare-ups. In other words, if you have a family history of gout, and you already drink coffee, 4 cups of java a day may actually improve your chances of not developing gout. Of course, it is important to continue monitoring your coffee intake, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine, pregnant, or have trouble with heartburn.