Eating cherries on a regular basis could cut the risk of people experiencing gout, a new report has suggested.
Researchers found that patients participating in the study, which has been published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, who ate cherries over a two-day period, were 35 per cent less likely to experience a gout attack than those who did not consume the fruit.
It was also established that the risk of gout attacks is dramatically reduced, by as much as 75 per cent, if the intake of cherries was complemented with allopurinol, a uric acid reducing drug.
Gout, which the NHS describes a type of arthritis, occurs when crystals of sodium urate – produced by the body – form inside joints. It is caused by a build up of uric acid in the blood.
This waste product is usually excreted through the kidneys, but in instances where too much of it is produced or too little of it is disposed by the body, it begins to build up and result in the formation of crystals.
Other factors that increase the risk of gout occurring include obesity, having high blood pressure and diabetes, drinking too much alcohol, and eating food rich in purines (sardines and liver).
"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack," commented Dr Yuqing Zhang, lead author and professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University. "The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days."
The team recruited 633 people for the study, the average age being 54 and most being male. They were required to log the date of the onset of gout, symptoms and the medication they were on.
They were also asked to record their cherry consumption in the two days prior to a gout attack occurring. The types of cherries varied. 23 per cent consumed fresh cherries, two per cent took in cherry extract and five per cent ate both types.
Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK was positive about the findings of the major study.
"It has been thought for some time that some fruits, in particular cherries, may have benefits for diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis which are characterised by chronic inflammation," he said.
"It has been suggested that antioxidant compounds found in cherries may be natural inhibitors of enzymes which are targeted by common anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen."
He added that he would like to see more clinical trials to be delivered in this area to see how effective it really is and give more credible evidence to this insightful body of research.
Men tend to be more affected by gout than women, principally because of gender differences. The female hormone oestrogen, the NHS explains, which is released during a woman's reproductive cycle, naturally reduces the level of uric acid.
It is believed that one in 70 UK adults have experienced gout, with symptoms usually surfacing in men over the age of 40 and women over the age of 60.
Posted by Jeanette Royston
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