Various purine-rich foods and high protein intake have long been thought to
be risk factors for gout. Similarly, the possibility that the consumption of dairy products has a role in protecting against
gout has been raised by metabolic studies. A recent study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine (March, 2004) investigated
the association of these dietary factors with new cases of gout.
The study examined the relationship between purported dietary risk factors
and new cases of gout for a twelve-year period among 47,150 men who had no history of gout at the beginning of the study.
The researchers used a supplementary questionnaire to ascertain whether participants met the American
College of Rheumatology survey criteria for gout. Diet was assessed every
four years by means of a food-frequency questionnaire.
The researchers found that during the 12 years of the study, 730 confirmed
new cases of gout were found. The highest risk for gout was among men who ate the most meat and seafood. In contrast, the
incidence of gout decreased with increasing intake of dairy products (milk, cheese, eggs, cottage cheese).
The level of consumption of purine-rich vegetables and the total protein intake
were not associated with an increased risk of gout.
The researchers concluded
that higher levels of meat and seafood consumption are associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas a higher level of
consumption of dairy products is associated with a decreased risk. Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables or protein is
not associated with an increased risk.