Last week I sent out a press release announcing my new, Beating Gout Starter Kit and got some surprising feedback. I received a letter from Audrae Erickson, President of the Corn Refiners Association criticizing my characterization of high-fructose corn syrup as a leading cause of gout, so I thought I would address the subject here.
The scientific research clearly shows that fructose has a direct metabolization path to uric acid. There have been several studies that have looking at soft drink consumption, both in it relationship to it ability to create uric acid in the body and directly as a cause of gout. These studies have shown a strong links between consumption of fructose and higher levels of uric acid and more frequent gout.
To quote one study titled, Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Serum Uric Acid, and Blood Pressure in Adolescents: “These results from a nationally representative sample of US adolescents indicate that higher sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is associated with higher serum uric acid levels and systolic blood pressure, which may lead to downstream adverse health outcomes.” (Source: Journal of Pediatrics 2009;154:807-13)
And another titled, Soft drinks, fructose consumption, and the risk of gout in men: prospective cohort study: “Prospective data suggest that consumption of sugar sweetened soft drinks and fructose is strongly associated with an increased risk of gout in men. Furthermore, fructose rich fruits and fruit juices may also increase the risk. Diet soft drinks were not associated with the risk of gout.” (Source: doi:10.1136/bmj.39449.819271.BE)
To be fair however, the Corn Refiners Association’s argument is not that high-fructose corn syrup is healthy, rather that it is no less healthy than sucrose, which is basically table sugar. This may be true. In fact, there is evidence that sucrose and fructose have the same effects on uric acid and gout. So I believe the best advise is to avoid all forms of sugar, except the most natural forms found in fresh fruit and even then only in moderation – even if you do not have gout or hyperuricemia. Now it’s important to reiterate that gout is a GENETIC disease. Diet, including sugar consumption, can make it worse or even cause gout in someone that is boarder line but the overwhelming cause of gout is genetic, not diet related (see, The ‘Skinny’ on Gout Diets and Top 10 Gout Myths).
However, the big problem that I have with high-fructose corn syrup is not it’s existence or its use but that it seems to be in everything and in much high quantity than in the past. Even if it really is “just as healthy as sucrose” as the Corn Refiners Association claims, we should all still steer clear of it and buy products that do not contain it or contain the least amount of it.
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