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Gout Causes

Written by FoundHealth, sshowalter.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop gout with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing gout. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for gout include:

Age and Gender

Although gout can occur in men and women of any age, it most often occurs in men over age 40. Gout usually does not affect women until after menopause.

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of gout include:

  • Being overweight
  • Eating a diet that includes foods high in purines. For a list of foods, see Reducing your Risk of Gout .
  • Fasting or crash dieting
  • Drinking alcohol (especially in excess)

Genetic Factors

There appears to be a genetic component to gout. Six percent to eighteen percent of people who have gout have relatives who also have gout. In a small number of people, the risk of gout is increased by an enzyme defect that interferes with the way the body breaks down purines.

Medical Conditions

Serious illness, such as heart attack or stroke , can trigger a gout attack. Other illnesses that may increase the risk for developing gout include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Vascular disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Kidney disease
  • Kidney Stones
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Certain types of anemia
  • Following surgical procedures

Medical Treatments

Certain medications and vitamins can increase the risk of gout. These include:

  • Diuretics
  • Salicylates and medicines made from salicylic acid (such as aspirin )
  • Caffeine, including medicines containing caffeine
  • Levodopa (used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease )
  • Aminophylline
  • Withdrawal of corticosteroid medications
  • Cyclosporine (used to help control rejection of transplanted organs)
  • Niacin (a vitamin)

In addition, surgery, trauma, and cancer treatments such as radiation or chemotherapy may also increase your risk of developing gout.



American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: .

American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: .

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: .

The Merck Manual of Medical Information.17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc; 2000.

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