Cherries Lower Risk of Gout Attacks

First Posted: Sep 29, 2012 04:34 AM EDT

One of the most painful types of arthritis is 'Gout'. Untreated gout attacks range from mild to severe which can be experienced by both men and women. Gout attacks cause sudden severe joint pain and be combined with redness, swelling, and tenderness of the joint at times. Gout is a disease that results from an overload of uric acid in the body. Previous research reports state that nearly 8.3 million adults in the U.S suffer with gout.

A new study focuses on this disease stating that consuming cherries over a two day period showed a 35 percent lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat the fruit.

According to the study published in the Arthritis and Rheumatism a journal of the American College of Rheumatism (ACR) , the risk of gout flare dropped by seven percent on consuming cherry that was combined with uric acid reducing drug allopurinol.

Even regular treatments cannot stop the recurrence of gout attacks. This instigated researchers to look for different solutions.

Prior studies suggest that cherry products have urate-lowering effects and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus may have the potential to reduce gout pain. However, no study has been done yet to assess whether cherry consumption could lower risk of gout attacks.

The study led by Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and colleagues analyzed 633 gout patients whose mean age was 54 and they were tracked online for almost a year. The participants were asked to provide details of their gout onset, symptoms, medications and risk factors, including cherry and cherry extract intake in the two days prior to the gout attack. A cherry serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.

Out of 633, 88 percent were white and 78 percent subjects were male. Out of these 35 percent ate fresh cherries, 2 percent ingested cherry extract and percent consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks during the one-year follow-up period, with 92 percent occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.

"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack," said Dr. Zhang. "The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days." 

The authors observed that further cherry intake did not provide any additional benefit. The protective effect of cherry intake persisted after taking into account patients' sex, body mass (obesity), purine intake, along with use of alcohol, diuretics and anti-gout medications.

While the current findings are promising, Gelber and Solomon "would not advise that patients who suffer from gout attacks abandon standard therapies." 

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