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What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Gout?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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Researchers have proven the connection between alcohol and gout, although there is still some debate about whether the gout is actually being caused by the alcohol or aggravated by it. There is no doubt that alcohol consumption, especially in the case of beer, increases purine levels in the body, and purine is a substance that eventually dissolves into uric acid, which causes gout. Some experts think that gout is primarily caused by a genetic predisposition and that alcohol is only a trigger mechanism that causes attacks of gout to happen.

Gout is a kind of arthritic disease, which can be very painful and even disabling. When people suffer from it, the joints in certain parts of their bodies will swell and become somewhat immobilized. In many cases, gout tends to happen more in the lower extremities, and it usually starts in those areas first. It is caused by the body failing to properly digest uric acid, and the acid hardens into tiny crystals. This substance will accumulate in a person’s joints and make it hard for them to move around.

Where the alcohol and gout connection comes in is with uric acid. The acid comes from purines, which are nutrients found in certain foods. Beer has a lot of purines, and that’s why it is more associated with gout than other kinds of alcohol. There is also a lot of evidence that alcohol can make the body less efficient in disposing of uric acid, so beer has the potential for a double effect when it comes to the alcohol and gout connection. Other kinds of alcohol also have a significant association with gout, with the exception of very moderate red wine consumption.

Whether or not the alcohol and gout connection is a pure cause and effect relationship, there is a lot of evidence that staying away from alcohol can lessen the number of gout episodes and perhaps decrease the severity. In many cases when people suffer from gout, doctors might recommend that a person avoid drinking any alcohol as a preventative measure. There are some that say it is OK to indulge in alcohol to a slight degree, but this is disputed, and many doctors recommend totally stopping any alcohol intake. Other lifestyle-related changes that can help reduce gout problems include lessened meat in the diet, especially shellfish, and certain preserved fish.

When people suffer from gout, there are several treatment options that can lessen symptoms. One basic treatment approach is to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which can decrease pain and inflammation. In many cases, doctors might also put a patient on a diet to lose some weight, because being overweight is also associated with increased gout risk.

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Discussion Comments
By literally45 — On Mar 29, 2014

@candyquilt-- Alcohol is definitely a major trigger for gout, there is no doubt about that. Someone with gout should not drink at all. I personally have stopped drinking, but I'm also limiting purine rich foods. This combination has given me relief from gout.

By candyquilt — On Mar 29, 2014

@bluedolphin-- I'm not an expert on this topic but I think that alcohol can cause gout.

You are right that there are many different foods that can cause high uric acid levels in the body. These are foods with high purine such as red meat, liver, beans, fish, chicken and some vegetables like spinach.

I have had a gout attack in the past and I do enjoy these foods in moderation. I believe that the gout attack happened because of alcohol because I was drinking a lot at that time. After the gout attack, I stopped drinking and have not had another attack. It has been five years since then and like I said, I do eat purine rich foods in moderation. So I think that alcohol is a much bigger culprit than food.

By bluedolphin — On Mar 28, 2014

I don't think hat alcohol causes gout because there are many different foods and drinks that increase uric acid levels in the body. Alcohol is only one of them. Obviously, alcohol will worsen gout and may bring on a gout attack in someone who suffers from the condition. But it's not going to cause gout in someone who is not predisposed to it. At least that's what I think about the connection between the two.

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