The Good News of Gout: Sore Joints = Lower Risk of Alzheimer's?

Gout in Toe Joing/ Peter Dazeley Photographer's Choice/ Getty Images.

What Is Gout?

Gout is a painful type of arthritis where joints become inflamed, stiff, red and warm to the touch. It is most common in the joint of the big toe, but it can also occur in many other locations such as the ankles, elbows, wrists, heels and knees.

Gout is characterized by a high level of uric acid- a condition called hyperuricemia- which builds up and develops uric acid crystals that cause inflammation in the joints.

Who Gets Gout?

Gout is more common among males than females. Although children can develop gout, most gout cases are in adults.

Risk factors for gout include being overweight, drinking a high amount of alcohol, eating foods that contain high levels of purines, high blood pressure, a family history of gout and some medications.

What's the Connection between Gout and Alzheimer's Disease?

A study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases journal outlines an interesting potential benefit of gout. A group of researchers reviewed data collected from nearly 60,000 people with gout, as well as more than 200,000 without gout. After taking into account other factors including social interaction, alcohol use, smoking, medications, and cardiovascular health, the researchers found that participants who had gout had a significantly lower risk of also developing Alzheimer's disease.

    Why Might This Be True?

    While one possibility proposed is that higher levels of uric acid encourage better brain functioning, more research needs to be conducted to determine if this is a correlation (Alzheimer's and gout are connected but the one doesn't directly cause- or prevent- the other) or a direct cause (the high levels of uric acid in gout directly prevent Alzheimer's).

    In the meantime, it might at least provide some comfort if you're suffering from the discomfort of gout.

    Related Reading


    Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2015 Mar 4. Gout and the risk of Alzheimer's disease: a population-based, BMI-matched cohort study.

    National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal  and Skin Diseases. Questions and Answers about Gout. April 2012.

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