Cherries may keep gout away, study says
NEW YORK - ReutersCherries may no longer be just for topping off ice-cream sundaes, a U.S. study of people with gout linked eating the fruit with a 35 percent to 75 percent lower risk of having an attack.
Doctors have reported that some patients recommend cherries to prevent gout attacks, but the connection has only been studied a few times before, said lead researcher Yuqing Zhang, a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine.
“These findings suggest that cherry intake is associated with a lower risk of gout attacks,” Zhang and colleagues wrote in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. But Zhang warned that the study does not prove that cherries alone prevent gout attacks, and that patients should stick with their present gout medications.
Gout arises with uric acid crystals build up in the joints. The body produces uric acid when it breaks down purines, substances found naturally in the body but also in certain foods, like organ meats, anchovies, mushrooms and some seafoods.
For the study, Zhang and his colleagues recruited patients over the Internet to take online surveys about their attacks.
All the 633 participants had had a gout attack in the last 12 months, had been diagnosed with gout by a doctor and were at least 18 years old. Of the 633 patients, 224 said they had eaten fresh cherries during the year, 15 said they had consumed cherry extract and 33 had both.
Overall, the researchers found that eating cherries over a given two-day period was linked to a 35 percent decrease in the risk of having a gout attack during that period, compared to not eating cherries.
Consuming cherry extract was tied to a 45 percent risk reduction, and eating both fresh cherries and extract was tied to a 37 percent lower risk.
The biggest reduction, though, came with eating fresh cherries while taking the anti-gout medication allpurinol (Lopurin, Zyloprim.) That combination was linked to a 75 percent reduction in risk.