In the near future, you may be able to be tested and treated for Gout before you ever experience a symptom. A new study, lead by Dr. Caroline Fox of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Maryland, concluded that three specific genes may increase your risk of developing Gout. The report was published in The Lancet (online) on September 30, 2008. The study evaluated data from nearly 15,000 participants who were also being assessed in a project through the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study.
First, let’s take a look at how Gout can affect you. Currently in the U.S., three million adults experience attacks of Gout, and men are nine times more likely to be inflicted with the effects than women. Gout is often a sudden and severe attack on the body, causing severe pain, tenderness, and swelling in one or more of the joints. Although, it usually only attacks one joint at a time. Gout is a result of an increase of uric acid, which then may form deposits of crystals on the joints. The integrity of the joint is altered, causing inflammation and Arthritic Gout. Gout attacks usually occur suddenly, and a first time attack can often be felt in the big toe. The pain can be so severe that a sock on the foot is unbearable. Certain elements can cause a sudden attack; this includes but is not limited to:
- Injury to a Joint
- Weight Gain
- Alcohol Consumption (Over a Moderate Level)
- An Extreme Water Intake
- Sudden Illness and Low Immune Tolerance
- High Blood Pressure Levels
- Menopausal Women
- Kidney Malfunctions
An overload of uric acid produces uric crystals in the bodily tissues, including the synovial fluid (lubrication of the joint) and the synovial linings (lining of the joint). The acute pain is the most obvious sign but you may notice redness to the joint, swelling, and hotness to the touch. Weight bearing joints, such as the ankles and knees are often affected, as well as the elbows, wrists, and fingers. Gout attacks usually persist for a couple hours and may even stretch for a couple days. In severe cases, Gout may last for weeks and is compared to the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. If Gout is left untreated for a prolonged period of time, it can permanently damage the kidneys and the affected joints. Gout is usually prevalent among men over the age of forty and women who have recently gone through menopause.
Gout attacks can often be controlled through diet. The American Medical Association suggests that a diet rich in complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread, and rice could be helpful, but because weight gain can complicate gout, it is wise to supplement your diet with foods high in fiber and potassium as well. Fruits and vegetables are a healthy way to add these sources to a nutritional diet. Some foods high in these sources are bananas, avocados, prunes, cherries, blueberries, and spinach. It is recommended to reduce your red meat intake that is high in fat and replace it with fish, tofu, and other lean meats. Glucosamine supplements, such as Synflex®, may help reduce inflammation and ward off future attacks.
The new study indicates that your risk of developing Gout is increased with the presence of three genes: SCLA29, ABCG2, and SLC17A3. If this seems a bit to scientific for you, you’re not alone. However, to medical science this is an extreme advancement. The researchers found that with the presence of these genes your risk went up 40 times. All three genes promote the transportation of urate to the kidneys, which starts the downward spiral. New scientific data could aid scientists in developing a standard testing procedure. Therefore, you could be tested in your youth and take the necessary steps to maintain your health. A method of eliminating uric acid build-up would also be obtainable, as well as the transition for possible treatments and medicinal therapies. These three specific genes may be related to other diseases as well, but we will have to wait for further developments.