London, Feb 1 : Men who drink too many sugar sweetened soft drinks and fruit juices might be at a higher risk of developing gout.
In a new study, researchers have discovered an increased risk of gout associated with these drinks, which is even higher than certain types of alcohol-traditionally believed to be the major cause of the painful joint disease.
Gout is characterised by extreme pain and swelling, caused by excess uric acid in the blood (hyperuricaemia) leading to uric acid crystals collecting around the joints.
The study led by Hyon K Choi, from British Columbia University in Vancouver, and Gary Curhan, from Harvard Medical School, aimed at finding the relation between intake of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose (a simple sugar and the only carbohydrate known to increase uric acid levels) and the risk of gout.
In the study, one of the largest of its kind, researchers in United States and Canada examined more than 46,000 men aged over 40 with no previous history of gout over 12 years and observed their intake of soft drinks, fruit and fruit juices.
The findings of the study revealed that the risk of developing gout was 85 pct higher among men consuming two or more cans of soft drinks a day than those who consumed less than one a month. This is greater than the risk associated with drinking spirits.
It was also found that Men who consumed large amounts of fruit juice or fructose-rich fruits, such as apples and oranges, also had a higher risk of the condition. However, drinking diet soft drinks showed no extra risk of gout.
Conventionally, dieticians have recommended the sufferers to restrict their diet of purines (chemicals found in meat and alcohol that turn into uric acid).
While, most of the soft drinks and fruit juices are rich in fructose, the report has stressed that this finding needs to be balanced against the benefits of fruit and vegetables to prevent other chronic disorders such as high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and certain cancers.
The authors concluded by saying that their findings provide prospective evidence that consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose is strongly associated with an increased risk of gout
"These findings support the importance of recommending a reduction in fructose intake in patients with hyperuricaemia and gout in order to reduce the risk of gout," The Telegraph quoted the authors of the study, as saying.
"Gout sufferers are often told to increase their intake of fluids, sometimes by up to three or 3.5 litres a day. This study suggests there could be problems if patients start to follow that advice by increasing their intake of soft drinks instead of water," said Sian Porter, from the British Diatectic Association.
The study is published in the latest issue of The British Medical Journal.