Cases of gout are spiralling at an ‘astonishing’ rate across the world with 41million people now living with the agonising condition – up 7% from 1990
- Gout cases soured round the world between 1990 and 2017, new research found
- It is usually caused by eating lots of red meat and drinking too much alcohol
- New study found there were 41.2million cases of gout in 2017
Cases of gout are increasing at an alarming rate across the world, scientists have warned.
Researchers calculated that 41million people worldwide are currently living with the agonising form of arthritis each year.
It means cases have risen by 7 per cent since 1990 — but the increase is around 11 per cent in Western Europe and up to 34 per cent in the US and Canada.
Experts at the University of Sydney, who carried out the review, described the pace of increase as ‘astonishing’.
Gout has been traditionally associated with living a luxurious lifestyle, and can be caused by over-indulging in beer and red meat.
But evidence is beginning to show the inflammatory condition – which causes sudden pain, tenderness and swelling of joints – is largely driven by genetics.
Cases of gout are rising at an ‘alarming’ rate with more than 41 million people struck down globally by the painful condition every year, warns a new study.
Its famous sufferers include Henry VIII, with the Tudor monarch being the reason gout is known as the ‘disease of kings’.
And Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US, is said to have missed many meetings to draft the Declaration of Independence due to gout.
Gout — which is more common in men — affects around one in 40 people in the UK and a total of 8.3million people in the US.
Symptoms, including severe sudden joint pain and swollen skin in the affected area, occur due to the formation of uric acid crystals in the joints.
Dr Emma Smith, senior author of the study, said the burden of gout was generally highest in developed regions and countries.
The team calculated there was around 7.4million new cases of the disease each year — around 92 new cases for every 100,000 people.
Writing in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatology, the academics said this was a 5.5 per cent rise on 1990.
But they said that rates were rising quickest in high-income North America (26.9 per cent).
Dr Smith and colleagues adjusted all of their findings for age, meaning the ageing population could not skew the results.
The experts wrote: ‘The increasing trend of gout burden is most likely to continue as the global aging population is on the rise.
‘Attempts to lessen the disease onset and future burden require better awareness, especially of risk factors, and early diagnosis and treatment.’
The team added: ‘At the regional level, gout burden was found to be both higher in developed regions and the pace of increase was astonishing.’
Lynsey Conway, of the UK Gout Society secretariat, told The Times. ‘Gout is an extremely painful condition which, left untreated, may lead to joint and kidney damage, permanent disability and an increased risk of early death.’
‘While modifying diet and lifestyle can help, gout can only be treated, prevented and potentially cured by long-term treatment with medications that lower the level of uric acid in the blood.’
WHAT IS GOUT?
Gout is a form of arthritis that can be extremely painful.
Agonising attacks come on very quickly, often during the night.
It affects around two per cent of people in the UK and 8.3 million in the US.
Gout was once thought to be caused by overeating and drinking excessively, however, that is not the whole story.
The condition occurs due to a build up of uric acid, which can be because a person’s kidneys cannot get rid of the substance quickly enough.
Over time, uric-acid crystals can form in and around the joints, which can trigger severe inflammation that usually settles within a week.
In any day, about three-quarters of the urate in our bodies comes from the breakdown of purines produced within our body, while only about a quarter comes from the breakdown of purines in food and drink we consume.
Foods and drinks high in purines include:
- Red meat and offal
- Oily fish, such as mackerel and salmon
- Foods rich in yeast extract, like Marmite and Bovril
As well as pain, symptoms can include joints being:
Without treatment, gout attacks can become more frequent, with more joints being affected.
The two most common painkillers used to treat gout are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, and colchicine.
Source: Versus Arthritis