Gout cases highest down under
GOUT cases are on the rise in Australia, where the prevalence of the condition in elderly males is the second highest in the world, according to a systematic review.
Researchers from Australia and New Zealand reviewed data from 25 journal articles and five reports. They found that cases of gout have increased in Australia, rising from 0.5% prevalence in the overall population in 1968 to 1.7% in 1995–96.
However, in the Aboriginal population gout has spiked from zero prevalence in 1965 to 9.7% prevalence in males and 2.9% prevalence in females in 2002.
Researchers attribute the spike of gout cases in the Aboriginal community to increased urbanisation, which has led to a change of diet and lifestyle.
Another important factor is the change of diet overall; for example, the consumption of sugar-sweetened soft drinks was significantly lower in the 1960s.
Gout is most prevalent in elderly men, and one in six Australian men (16.5%) over the age of 70 suffers from the condition, according to research.
Gout cases in older men were lower in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States. The one country with a higher prevalence of gout in elderly males than Australia was New Zealand, where prevalence was as high as 18%.
Gout is increasing overall in affluent countries. It’s a major health issue and an independent risk factor for cardiac and all-cause mortality. It’s also associated with a reduced quality of life, impaired functioning and decreased work productivity.
Internal Medicine Journal 2012; online 4 April