The decades-long question — regular or diet soda — took a dramatic turn this month for arthritis patients. It seems drinking any soft drinks with high amounts of sugar can significantly increase the risk of gout.

The risk comes after ingesting the high sugar amounts, which can lead to elevated serum uric acid levels in the bloodstream. Those heightened levels can produce crystals to form in the body’s joints, causing the painful rheumatic condition of gout.

These results come from a study just published in the January 2008 issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

Uric acid is already present in the blood, typically a waste product of purine breakdowns (purines themselves are found in most foods, as they play an essential role in organisms’ DNA make-up). We end up with too much of the acid when our bodies mistakenly produce too much, when our kidneys cannot eliminate it quickly, or, as this study shows, when we ingest foods/drinks high in purines.

According to the Arthritis team at About.com, foods rich in purines include: “beer, and other alcoholic beverages; anchovies, sardines in oil, fish roes, and herring; yeast; organ meat (liver, kidneys, and sweetbreads); legumes (dried beans and peas); meat extracts, consomme, and gravies; and mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, and cauliflower.” To that list we can now add sodas high in sugar.

However, diet sodas were not associated with increased serum uric acid levels, the study said.

The study, “Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, diet soft drinks, and serum uric acid level: The third national health and nutrition examination survey” looked at data involving 14,761 participants who were at least 20 years of age. The survey data was collected from 1988-1994.

To read a news article about the study, more information on how purines affect your diet, or the study information itself, click on one of the three links below:


Article References

Gout Foods: Avoiding Purine-Rich Foods, site accessed on 01/14/08

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks, diet soft drinks, and serum uric acid level: The third national health and nutrition examination survey, site accessed on 01/14/08