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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.

Gout is more common in men over 30 years, but it can occur in anyone. Gout usually does not affect women until after menopause.

Genetics may also play a role in gout. In a small number of people, the risk of gout is increased by an enzyme defect that leads to high levels of uric acid in the body.

Hyperuricemia is the biggest risk factor for gout. Hyperuricemia occurs when the body makes to much uric acid, or when then body excretes to little of it in the urine. Keep in mind that it is possible to have hyperuricemia and not have gout. Many factors may increase the risk of gout.

Lifestyle factors that increase the risk of gout include:

  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Eating a diet that includes foods high in purines. For a list of foods, see Reducing your Risk of Gout.
  • Excessive alcohol intake.
  • Drinking high-fructose beverages, like sugar-sweetened sodas and orange juice.

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
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Organ transplantation

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

  • Diuretics
  • Salicylates and medicines made from salicylic acid, such as aspirin
  • Levodopa, a medication used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease
  • Cyclosporine, which is used to help control rejection of transplanted organs
  • Niacin

Gout. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/Practice/Clinical/Patients/Diseases_And_Conditions/Gout. Updated September 2012. Accessed July 12, 2013.

Gout. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: http://www.arthritis.org/conditions-treatments/disease-center/gout. Accessed July 12, 2013.

Gout. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated February 13, 2013. Accessed July 12, 2013.

Gout causes and risk factors. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/gout/causes-risk-factors.html. Updated March 2010. Accessed July 12, 2013.

Questions and answers about gout. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/default.asp. Accessed July 12, 2013.

What is gout? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Gout/gout_ff.pdf. Accessed July 12, 2013.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Fahran Tahir, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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