Hurt Wrist

More bad news about sugary beverages: new research suggests fruit juices and fructose-rich sweetened sodas can lead to an increased risk for gout, an extremely painful form of inflammatory arthritis whose prevalence is sharply on the rise.

Researchers followed 79,000 women, predominately Caucasian, aged 30-55 with no history of gout as part of the U.S. Nurses Health Study over the course of 22 years. The study aimed to determine the relationship between fructose-rich beverages and other sources of fructose and the risk of the developing of gout in women. Food intake questionnaires were sent to the women every 2 or 4 years and included questions about consumption of sugar-sweetened and diet sodas, fruit juices, and other sources of dietary fructose.

After adjusting for age, alcohol intake, menopause status, and other factors, the study found that one daily serving of sugar-sweetened soda was associated with a 74% elevated risk of developing gout compared to less than one serving per month, and that 2 daily servings of sugar-sweetened sodas or 2 daily servings of orange juice was associated with a 2.4-fold increase in risk.  D Diet soda consumption was not associated with any increased risk.

Fructose is one-half of a sucrose (table sugar) molecule, and is also abundant in honey, agave nectar, fruit juice, raisins, and processed foods made with high-fructose corn syrup. When large quantities of fructose are digested and metabolized, they can elevateuric acid concentrations in the blood, a risk factor for developing gout.  In the U.S. general population, new cases are on the rise – the incidence more than doubled between 1977 and 1996. Interestingly, this increase parallels the rising consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas and other fructose-rich foods in the last 30 years.  In addition to being painful in and of itself, the incidence of gout is also strongly associated with serious conditions like metabolic syndrome, heart attack, and diabetes.