December 09, 2015

UAB launches online gout-diet survey

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goutResearchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are going online to find out more about the relationship between gout and diet, with an ultimate goal of discovering whether dietary changes or a nutritional supplement might improve gout symptoms.

The investigators are looking for adults with gout to participate in an online survey every three months for three years. The survey will ask participants about their diet and how it affects their gout symptoms.

“Gout, which has long been associated with food and drink, is a widely misunderstood disease,” said Jasvinder Singh, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology,Department of Medicine, and principal investigator of the study. “We know that certain foods, too much alcohol and being overweight are risk factors for gout. This study will further explore the connection between gout and diet.”

Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals in the joints. Untreated, it can lead to permanent joint damage and destruction of tissue. More than 8.3 million Americans are living with gout, a number that has increased sevenfold in the past five decades.

While gout can be managed well with the proper uric acid-lowering therapy recommended by a physician, Singh says many patients are also interested in considering other nonpharmacological treatment options.

“Unfortunately, we do not have strong evidence for the efficacy of any of these nonpharmacological options,” Singh said.

Singh says there is reason to believe that a cherry extract supplement, available over the counter, might have some beneficial impact on gout, particularly in reducing flare-ups and lowering uric acid levels. Survey respondents will receive either a gout-specific dietary consultation from a dietitian, or a supply of the cherry extract supplement as they progress through the study.

Individuals with gout who are 19 years of age or older can learn more about the online survey by filling out a questionnaire.