Friday, March 28, 2008

Gout, Go Figure

This week, I've been thinking a lot about gout, a condition that conjures up images of big, fat men with big bellies dressed in suits from the 19th century. I think of it as a disease of fat cats, wheelers and dealers, masters' of the universe.

The image isn't entirely inaccurate. In the past, the cause of gout appeared to be due to a high level of purines in the blood. What are purines? According to, they are

Definition of Purine

Purine: One of the two classes of bases in DNA and RNA. The purine bases are guanine (G) and adenine (A). Uric acid, the offending substance in gout, is a purine end-product.

The purine-rich foods include organ meats (think liver, sweetbreads, etc.), beer, sardines, anchovies and gravies. These are foods I would imagine were for the wealthy in the 19th century. But there are some other foods that have purines too that I find surprising, namely yeast products and some veggies including mushrooms, spinach asparagus and cauliflower.

So is it because of the sweetbreads or broccoli that is causing the rise in gout today in women? Or is it another purine-rich food--or beverage--that is causing this painful condition (where joints become incredibly painful, especially at the extremities like feet) in more and more females.

I guess I've been thinking about it today because I've been fielding emails from a pal who's worried about a breast cancer biopsy coming up. So as I've been trying to soothe the stressed-out one that breast cancer incidences have been falling -- because of more preventative care like early biopsies -- I've thought about gout.

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