Who Gets Gout & Why?
Gout is typically experienced by people with highest natural levels of uric acid concentrations in the body:
- Men, beginning at puberty (rare) and peaking at age 40-50
- Women, beginning at menopause and peaking after age 60
- Overall, men are most likely to experience gout, outnumbering women sufferers by a 2:1 margin (and as high as 7:1 in some studies). Between 1-3% of males have gout.
- It is thought that African-American men may have a higher prevalence than Caucasians. Heredity can also play a factor.
High levels of uric acid are ultimately caused by factors other than just gender, age, and heredity, including over-production (the unnecessary build-up) or under-excretion (the inability to rid itself sufficiently), as a result of:
- Excessive purine consumption through diet, such as alcohol (especially beer), refined sugar (including high fructose corn syrup), meats (particularly organ meat, like liver), seafood (particularly shellfish, sardines and anchovies), and certain vegetables and legumes (asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, beans, peas and mushrooms)
- Reduced kidney functioning, impairing the body’s ability to excrete excessive uric acid naturally
- Fasting or rapid weight loss
In addition to lifestyle, certain events are also responsible for the over-production and under-excretion of uric acid, triggering gout in high-risk individuals, such as:
- Overconsumption of dietary purine
- Alcohol ingestion
- Hemorrhage, or other acute medical illness (such as infection)
- Surgery, particularly organ transplant recipients (usually 3-5 days post-op)
- Drugs (see How Gout Works)
- Radiation therapy