This is my layman’s review of a report investigating the coffee-uric acid relationship.
Like similar reports investigating coffee and gout, this is a statistical investigation looking at coffee consumption compared to uric acid levels.
After the review, I summarize what the link between coffee and uric acid means for gout sufferers.
Coffee and Uric Acid Study
- Inverse association between coffee drinking and serum uric acid concentrations in middle-aged Japanese males
- Kiyohara C, Kono S, Honjo S, Todoroki I, Sakurai Y, Nishiwaki M, Hamada H, Nishikawa H, Koga H, Ogawa S, Nakagawa K.
- Br J Nutr. 1999 Aug
The introduction describes uric acid. It is routinely tested in Japan as part of most blood tests. Not only is it linked to gout, but high uric acid is also linked to heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The most popular non-alcoholic drinks in Japan are green tea and coffee, both of which are high in caffeine.
Coffee and Uric Acid Study: Subjects and Methods
The study subjects are all Japanese males. From the available study records, many were excluded because subjects were being treated for gout or other health conditions. This left 2240 men aged between 49 and 59.
The subjects had uric acid tests and analysis of food and drink consumption. All the collected information was grouped into different categories. For example, coffee and green tea were categorized less than one, one to two, three to four, and 5 or more cups per day.
Coffee and Uric Acid Study: Results
There was a wide range of uric acid levels, with an average of 5.8mg/dL. High uric acid, defined as 7 or over, was recorded in 17.5% of subjects. Statistical analysis revealed links between uric acid and age, smoking status, glucose tolerance, and Body Mass Index (BMI).
Coffee and Uric Acid Study: Discussion
Though coffee was associated with lower uric acid, the comparison with green tea excludes caffeine as a reason. The nature of the study makes it impossible to judge if reduced uric acid is from coffee inhibiting production, like allopurinol, or increasing excretion, like probenecid. The authors suggest theobromine, and this has also been suggested in Theobromine and Gout
The authors note that the reduction in uric acid through coffee consumption, whilst significant in statistical terms, is only 5%, which might not be medically important.
Coffee and Uric Acid Study: Next Steps
Though the investigation reveals a connection, it cannot explain the nature of the link between coffee and uric acid. Therefore, the authors call for further specific research. I am not aware of any specific research yet, so we have to rely on judgment. You could also try self-experimentation between blood tests, by drinking coffee for alternate months, with a uric acid test at each change.
For other dietary changes that might help improve uric acid, please see the Gout Foods To Eat guidelines.
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