Scientists find genetic link between sugary drinks and gout

September 12, 2013, University of Otago
Otago scientists find genetic link between sugary drinks and gout

(Medical Xpress)—University of Otago and Auckland scientists have for the first time discovered a human gene variant that can "turn bad" when affected by sugary drinks, raising the risk of developing the common and debilitating arthritic disease gout.

Associate Professor Tony Merriman from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Otago says: "This study shows that reverse the benefits of a gene variant which would usually protect against gout. The evidence is now even stronger against sugary drinks."

Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid crystallises in the joints and the painful inflammatory response is gout. It is the most common form of arthritis in New Zealand, with particularly high rates in men; 3.7% in European men, 11.7% in M?ori men and 13.5% in Pacific men. The disease has strong links with other 'metabolic' diseases such as diabetes, heart and .

The study, which appeared today online in the international journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, shows that when the variant of the gene SLC2A9 behaves correctly, it helps transport uric acid out of the blood stream and facilitates its excretion through the kidney.

"But when people with this gene variant consume sugary drinks, it takes on Jekyll and Hyde characteristics; the apparent function of the reverses, such that we think uric acid is instead transported back into the blood-stream and the risk of gout is increased.

"So, not only does sugar raise uric acid in the blood due to processing in the liver, but it also appears to directly interfere with excretion of uric acid from the kidney. This was a quite unpredictable interaction," he says.

US researchers studying gout have so far proven that high-fructose corn syrup sweetened increase the risk of gout for people of European ancestry. The second major finding of the new Otago study was that consuming sugar-sweetened soft drinks also increases the risk of gout in New Zealanders, including for M?ori and Pacific people, independent of their weight.

"Each daily 300ml serving of sugar-sweetened drink increases the chance of gout by 13%," Associate Professor Merriman says.

The Otago researchers examined blood samples to specifically focus on the SLC2A9 gene in 1634 people of European, Maori and Pacific ancestry recruited between 2007 and 2012. Study participants were recruited mainly from Auckland and Christchurch, through hospitals, community focal points, such as marae, and workplaces. A similar study was also done in Tairawhiti (East Coast) in partnership with Ngati Porou Hauora.

Participants also answered a question about their sugar-sweetend soft drink and fruit juice consumption, and medical information was collected to verify whether or not they had gout. Within the sample, 5% of European, 14.4% of M?ori and 16.6% of Pacific Island people were drinking more than 1 litre of sugar-sweetened soft and/or fruit juice drink per day.

In the study done in Tairawhiti, the message about the importance of avoiding sugary soft drinks and was actively promoted from an early stage. This resulted in those participants with gout drinking almost one serving less of these drinks per day compared to others in New Zealand.

Dr Merriman says gout attacks can be prevented by the prescribed daily use of the medicine allopurinol, which lowers the production of in the blood. As a result of the new research, he further recommends that in addition to taking this medicine people with should not drink any sugary drinks.

Explore further: Sugary soft drinks linked to increased risk of gout in men

Related Stories

Sugary soft drinks linked to increased risk of gout in men

February 1, 2008
Consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose is strongly associated with an increased risk of gout in men, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

Vitamin C does not lower uric acid levels in gout patients

May 16, 2013
Despite previous studies touting its benefit in moderating gout risk, new research reveals that vitamin C, also known ascorbic acid, does not reduce uric acid (urate) levels to a clinically significant degree in patients ...

Gout study offers genetic insight into 'disease of kings'

December 23, 2012
Scientists have shed light on why some people are more susceptible to gout than others. A study has identified 18 new genetic variations that increase levels of uric acid in the blood, which is the main cause of the disease. ...

Fructose-rich beverages associated with increased risk of gout in women

November 10, 2010
Consumption of fructose-rich beverages, such as sugar-sweetened sodas and orange juice is associated with an increased risk of gout among women, although their contribution to the risk of gout in the population is likely ...

Stopping gout in its tracks

March 23, 2012
Agonizing and debilitating attacks of gout, an inflammatory disease affecting the joints, could soon be consigned to history, thanks to a non-invasive test that can detect the disease before the first painful symptoms strike. ...

Study finds gout and hyperuricemia on the rise in the US

June 26, 2012
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that the incidence of gout and hyperuricemia (high uric acid levels) in the U.S. has risen significantly over the last 20 years and is associated with ...

Recommended for you

More doctor visits lead to less suicide attempts for fibromyalgia patients

September 19, 2018
Fibromyalgia patients who regularly visit their physicians are much less likely to attempt suicide than those who do not, according to a new Vanderbilt University Medical Center study published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Antioxidant found to be effective in treating mice with osteoarthritis

September 14, 2018
A team of researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands has found that feeding a common antioxidant to test mice was effective in treating osteoarthritis. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group ...

Researchers find answers as to why some people are at risk of gout

September 12, 2018
University of Otago researchers have helped characterise a genetic variant that enables new understanding of why some people are at risk of gout, a painful and debilitating arthritic disease.

Emotions like anger and sadness may cause pain as well as being a result of it

September 10, 2018
While emotions such as anger or sadness are often thought of as being a result of stress or pain, findings recently published by Penn State researchers suggest that negative or mixed emotions could function as stressors themselves.

Dietary carbohydrates could lead to osteoarthritis, new study finds

August 9, 2018
Do your knees ache? According to new findings from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, your diet could be a culprit.

Joint study raises questions about treatments for arthritis

August 3, 2018
A study examining how molecules are transported into knee-joint tissue could have major implications for understanding and treating arthritis.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.