Does drinking coffee help with gout?
Coffee! North America’s love affair with the coffee bean or I should say addiction is unparalleled to any other beverage other than water, since we have so much of it. Coffee shops are everywhere, we all have those specialty capsule coffee machines in our homes, and we just can’t get enough java! Coffee is slightly acidic (pH 5.0–5.1) and can have a stimulating effect on humans because of its caffeine content. It is one of the most consumed drinks in the world and I love coffee like anybody else and guess what? It’s good for us gout sufferers to drink a cup or 2 a day! So go ahead, take that trip to Starbucks and enjoy every sip of that Grande Cappuccino, my favorite by the way and add some cinnamon on top, mmm….delicious!
So what is the evidence on coffee and gout?
A study conducted over a 12 years span published by the Arthritis and Rheumatology medical journal proved that men over the age of 40 who drink coffee regularly had a lower risk of developing gout. This was a study that followed 45,869 with no history of gout at baseline by the way and 757 of these men developed gout after the 12 years. Furthermore, the more coffee the men drank; the more they decrease their risk of a gout attack.
Men who drank 5 or more cups a day appeared to have the lowest risk. Drinking one to three cups of coffee a day lowered gout risk by only 8%. The risk of gout was 40% lower for men who drank four to five cups a day and 59% lower for men who drank six or more cups a day than for men who never drank coffee. Wow! That’s a lot of coffee man! This correlation also seemed to hold true for decaffeinated coffee too! Decaffeinated coffee did have an effect, although it wasn’t as large as the effect of caffeinated coffee. The conclusion the researchers came to was that coffee caused reduction in uric acid levels in the blood stream allowing coffee drinkers to avoid gout.
What about tea?
What is also interesting is that participants answered a questionnaire that assessed coffee and tea consumption over the previous month by checking their uric acid levels in the blood and it showed that it decreased with increased coffee intake but not with tea intake. “These findings suggest that components of coffee other than caffeine contribute to the observed inverse association between coffee intake and uric acid levels,” the researchers state.  It’s not clear why coffee lowers gout risk. The researchers note that coffee is a major source of a strong antioxidant, phenol chlorogenic acid, that may affect gout risk.One glaring omission from this report is the effect of milk, which is often taken in coffee and the correlation between the uric acid lowering potential in dairy proteins.
Can coffee cure my gout?
Remember that this does not mean that drinking coffee will cure your gout, just that if you drink coffee then, statistically, you are less likely to get gout. I am not recommending you drink 4 or more cups of coffee a day because men more than women experience side effects of heavy caffeine intake, including insomnia, fast heartbeat, muscle tremors and nervousness. If anything mix it up with some decaf coffee. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, reduce your coffee consumption or caffeine from other sources. Choose organic coffee over the regular Folgers or Maxwell House type of coffees.
Caffeine has been shown to elevate blood sugars and make them more difficult to control in diabetics, so please be careful if you are a diabetic. It can also cause elevation in blood pressure and heart rate in people with hypertension or heart disease. Talk to your doctor before increasing your caffeine consumption particularly if you have other medical problems.
 Choi HK, Curhan G. Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and serum uric acid level: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arthritis Rheum (Arthritis Care Res). June 2007 (DOI: 10.1002/art.22762).
Posted by Spiro Koulouris