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It's Genes More than Diet

Genetics may contribute more to the development of gout than diet, the Australian Associated Press reports.

A team of researchers in New Zealand conducted a meta-analysis of more than 16,700 US adults of European ancestry on whom genotyping, serum urate, and diet data was collected. Elevated serum urate is a key risk factor for gout.

As they report in the BMJ, the researchers found that while some foods like potatoes, meat, and beer were associated with increased serum urate levels, they explained less than 0.3 percent of the variance in serum urate levels. By contrast, common genetic variants accounted for 23.9 percent of the variance.

This, the researchers say, challenges the widely held notion that gout is primarily influenced by poor diet. "[This study] provides important evidence that much of patients' predisposition to hyperuricemia and gout is non-modifiable, countering these harmful but well established views and practices and providing an opportunity to address these serious barriers to reducing the burden of this common and easily treatable condition," write Lorraine Watson and Edward Roddy from Keele University in an accompanying editorial at the BMJ.