Diets which are high in purines and high in protein have long been suspected of causing an increased risk of gout (a type of arthritis caused by high levels of uric acid in the body which form crystals in the joints, resulting in pain and inflammation). Results from a study led by Dr. Hyon K. Choi, reported in the March 11, 2004 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, offer an interesting twist.
Choi's research team followed 47,150 men with no prior history of gout over a 12-year period. The conclusion: during the 12 year period of assessment, 730 men were diagnosed with gout.
Study participants who consumed the highest amount of meat were 40 percent more likely to have gout than those who ate the least amount of meat.
Study participants who ate the most seafood were 50 percent more likely to have gout.
In this specific study, though, not all purine-rich foods were associated with an increased risk of gout. There was no increased risk associated with a diet which included:
Even though these foods are considered high in purines. Choi's team also found that low-fat dairy products decrease the risk of gout and overall protein intake had no effect. Ultimately, diets shown to be connected to gout are the same kinds of diet linked to cardiovascular disease.
Recommendations For Seafood Should Be Individualized
At this point, it may seem like it gets confusing. Isn't seafood typically recommended as part of a diet which is healthy for the heart? Yet research has revealed that there is a strong, undeniable link between seafood and gout. How does Choi reconcile what seems like conflicting information? He believes "recommendations for seafood should be individualized."