Can exposure to heavy metal toxins lead to gout?

Humans have been mining and using lead which is a heavy metal toxin for thousands of years now. Lead is first thought to be mined around 6500 BC in Anatolia which is modern day Turkey. It is also considered the oldest environmental hazard and one of the oldest known work. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health more than 3 million workers in the US are potentially exposed to lead in the workplace. Lead poisoning which is having a high level of heavy metal lead in the body can potentially damage and is toxic many organs like the kidneys, intestines, heart, bones as well as the reproductive and nervous systems.

Symptoms include headaches, insomnia, cognitive deficits, irritability, seizures, abdominal pain, coma, death and even gout. Once symptoms begin they can usually develop over weeks to months as lead builds up in the body during chronic exposure. The most common cause of lead poisoning is in the workplace but someone can be exposed to lead from the air, soil, food, water and even consumer products.

Gout was prevalent in Roman times and since lead was widely used to develop Rome’s aqueducts for their plumbing infrastructure, it was believed to be the result of the lead or leaded drinking and eating vessels. Another use of lead was as a compound used to sweeten wine known as sugar of lead. Romans who developed gout due to this, termed it as “saturnine” gout. Don’t complain that you don’t learn something new every day.

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The way lead poisoning leads to gout, is it may raise uric acid levels in the blood first which then causes uric acid to crystallize in the joints eventually triggering a gout attack. A Stanford University large population study stated that adults with supposedly safe blood levels of lead had an increased risk of developing gout and hyperuricemia compared to adults with the lowest lead levels.

People with the highest blood lead levels had three times the increased risk of gout compared to the lowest levels. The researchers went as far as saying that there is no such a thing as a safe level of exposure to lead. The researchers also stated that we should pursue the removal of lead from the environment as well as set up national prevention and detection goals. The study also included other heavy metal toxins like mercury and cadmium.

95% of all lead in the body is stored in the bones and teeth; and toxicologists refer to this as “bone seeker”, acting like a calcium becoming part of the bone structure. Your bones slowly become filled with lead and over time the accrued lead reaches toxic levels. Did you know that the United States didn’t fully outlaw lead use especially in leaded gasoline until 1978? Since 1978 the blood lead levels of Americans has dropped a whopping 78%! This decline was seen in reduction of lead air pollution. So there you have it folks, next time you do your blood-test ask your doctor to check your blood lead levels as well.

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    4 replies to "Gout and Lead"

    • […] How Lead Toxicity Can Lead to Gout […]

    • Anthony

      Hello, I came across your website, and it has been very helpful to me as I just started getting gout pretty severely !

      I was consuming too much beer and other terrible foods that would cause high uric acid levels, but I am happy to same I have changed my ways completely. I cut out the alcohol, the only meat I enjoy is a moderate amount of chicken now and again, I eat tons of veggies and fruits, but I need more info on what else to have as this diet is becoming hard to deal with due to its dull unappealing constant rotation.

      I know that I was enjoying whole wheat bread with my diet almost every day with breakfast or when I made a sandwich for lunch, before I began my diet, and it made the gout worse by far ! I read EVERYWHERE that wheat is a trigger for sure, so I try to avoid it altogether.

      I still have some questions thought as I want to keep my weight under control as I am obese and trying to shed some pounds to help my health and specifically gout. I go to the grocery store and avoid HFCS and regular CS, but can I have corn starch? Also, I see that you suggest whole grain items like whole grain breads, but I find that they have wheat flour in them and that scares me that it will give me another attack !! Is wheat flour the same as eating plain wheat that caused my gout to intensify?

      I have been eating crunchy taco shells from OLD ELPASO which don’t seem to bother my gout at all, are those okay for me? Also, I want to buy tortilla wraps, which ones would you prefer for gout?

      Any info would be so appreciated !

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Anthony!

        Thank you for your email!

        Yes when having bread make sure it is whole grain and not wheat flour only but regardless unless you suffer from celiac disease, whole wheat won’t trigger a gout attack. Again the shells and tortillas should be whole grain, the white flour is inflammatory, that and sugar is responsible for so many diseases nowadays.

        Good on you that you are trying to avoid HFCS and CS which are horrible man made chemicals.If you visit my Pinterest page you will notice many easy to make recipes of meals that are healthy for you and have healthy ingredients. Check it out for inspiration and ideas on new meal plans.

        Good luck!

    • […] Can heavy metal toxins lead to gout eventually? […]

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