28 September 2012

Eating 10 To 12 Cherries A Day Can Reduce Gout Attacks By 35%, Higher When Combined With Medication

Gout is a recurrent painful inflammation of joints (arthritis) that predominantly affect males 40 years old and above. It is one of the most painful type of arthritis around.

Some factors that are attributed to gout are obesity, high levels of lipids (fatty acids) in the bloodstream, and high alcohol intake. Gout is also suspected to be hereditary and genetic in nature for some cases.

Gout usually attacks in the middle of the night with a real painful feeling in the big toe or ankle. Any pressure put on the affected areas is painfully excruciating. Gout also, over time, affect the hands, knees, and elbows. Lumps of uric acid crystals will also form under the skin where gout is present.

Treatment for gout is two-prong. One is a lifestyle adjustment to lower the risk of another attack, and the other is to treat the pain associated with the condition.

For lifestyle adjustments, some recommended therapies are weight loss and management, reducing alcohol intake, reducing shellfish and meat intake to lower uric acid ingestion, and managing cholesterol levels. Lowering uric acid levels significantly also lowers the risk of a gout attack.

For the pain, anti-inflammatory medication are used. In some cases, steroids such as cortisone are required.

Eating cherries lowers risk of gout attacks by 35%

A new study found that patients with gout who consumed cherries over a two-day period showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat the fruit. Findings from this case-crossover study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), also suggest that risk of gout flares was 75% lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol, than in periods without exposure to cherries or treatment.

Previous research reports that 8.3 million adults in the U.S. suffer with gout, an inflammatory arthritis triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints that causes excruciating pain and swelling. While there are many treatment options available, gout patients continue to be burdened by recurrent gout attacks, prompting patients and investigators to seek other preventive options such as cherries. Prior studies suggest that cherry products have urate-lowering effects and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus may have the potential to reduce gout pain. However, no study has yet to assess whether cherry consumption could lower risk of gout attacks.

Video: Gout

For the present study, lead author Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and colleagues recruited 633 gout patients who were followed online for one year. Participants were asked about the date of gout onset, symptoms, medications and risk factors, including cherry and cherry extract intake in the two days prior to the gout attack. A cherry serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.

Participants had a mean age of 54 years, with 88% being white and 78% of subjects were male. Of those subjects with some form of cherry intake, 35% ate fresh cherries, 2% ingested cherry extract, and 5% consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks during the one-year follow-up period, with 92% occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.

"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack," said Dr. Zhang. "The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days." The authors found that further cherry intake did not provide any additional benefit. However, the protective effect of cherry intake persisted after taking into account patients' sex, body mass (obesity), purine intake, along with use of alcohol, diuretics and anti-gout medications.

In their editorial, also published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Dr. Allan Gelber from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. and Dr. Daniel Solomon from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Mass. highlight the importance of the study by Zhang et al. as it focuses on dietary intake and risk of recurrent gout attacks. While the current findings are promising, Gelber and Solomon "would not advise that patients who suffer from gout attacks abandon standard therapies." Both the editorial and study authors concur that randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm that consumption of cherry products could prevent gout attacks.


Arthritis & Rheumatism
American College of Rheumatology (ACR)
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Cherry Consumption and the Risk of Recurrent Gout Attacks
If Life Serves Up a Bowl of Cherries, and Gout Attacks are "The Pits"… Implications for Therapy
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Education and Employment Prime Issues For Children With Juvenile Arthritis
New Developments in Treatment of Asthma, Allergies and Arthritis
Discovery May Lead to New Therapy for Autoimmune Diseases
Fat Accumulation Can Be Blocked By Activating Androgen Receptors In The Body
Ursolic Acid In Apple Peels Reduces Obesity And Associated Health Problems
Stanford Researchers Find That Ibuprofen Relieves High Altitude Sickness