Arthritis Home > Foods That Cause Gout

Many people wonder, "Is gout caused by foods?" While there are no foods that cause the condition, there are some foods that can increase a person's chances of developing it, due to being high in purines. A few of these foods include organ meats like liver, brains, and kidneys; and some types of fish and shellfish, including scallops, anchovies, and sardines. Also, for people who already have gout, diet can play a role in causing a gout attack.

An Overview of Foods That Cause Gout Attacks

Gout is a type of arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a substance that forms from the breakdown of purines. Purines are part of all human tissue, and are also found in many foods. In fact, about 50 percent of the uric acid produced by the body comes from the breakdown of food products.
For people with gout, diet can play a role in causing a gout attack because foods high in purines will increase the amount of uric acid the body makes (see Gout Risk Factors). But what about people without gout? Are there foods that cause gout? The answer is no. However, there are foods that can increase the chances that a person will develop gout. In other words, these foods do not guarantee that by eating them you will get gout, they just increase your chances. These foods are considered gout risk factors.

What Does the Research Say?

In March, 2004, The New England Journal of Medicine published a study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital that looked at various purine-rich foods and high protein intake and their impact on developing gout. What they concluded from this 12-year study is that "higher levels of meat and seafood consumption are associated with an increased risk of gout, whereas a higher level of consumption of dairy products is associated with a decreased risk. Moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables or protein is not associated with an increased risk of gout."
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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