ISLAMABAD: A study that followed more than 44,000 men for 26 years finds that compared with a "Western" style diet, a plant-rich diet that is known to reduce blood pressure and is recommended for preventing heart disease is linked to a lower risk of developing gout, a painful arthritic condition that typically starts in the big toe.
The study by a team that includes members from Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, and Arthritis Research Canada in Richmond, BC is published in The BMJ.
Gout is a painful condition that affects the joints primarily those in the big toe, although it can also affect other joints and areas around them.
Recent research shows that the DASH diet reduces uric acid in the blood, and the team wondered if this means that it might also lower the risk of gout.
Thus, they decided to use data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to examine the link between diet and gout risk by comparing the DASH diet with a Western diet which is typically high in red and processed meats, refined grains, French fries, sweets, and desserts.
The researchers gave each participant a score that reflected how closely their diet matched the DASH one (the DASH score), and another score that reflected how closely they followed the Western diet (the Western pattern score).
When they analyzed the 26 years of follow-up data, the team found that a higher DASH score was tied to a lower risk of developing gout, whereas a higher Western pattern score was linked to a higher risk. The team found that the links were not affected by other known risk factors for gout, including age, body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, coffee intake, and alcohol intake. The authors explain that as their study was observational, it is not possible to draw conclusions about whether the DASH diet causes the reduction in gout risk. However, what they can say is that it does not contradict the idea, and they conclude: "The DASH diet is associated with a lower risk of gout, suggesting that its effect of lowering uric acid levels in individuals with hyperuricemia translates to a lower risk of gout. Conversely, the Western diet is associated with a higher risk of gout. The DASH diet may provide an attractive preventive dietary approach for men at risk of gout."