FRIDAY, May 25, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Four or more cups of coffee a day may help keep the gout away, suggests a study in the June issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Gout, the most common form of inflammatory arthritis in adult males, is caused by too much uric acid in the joints.
In this study, American and Canadian researchers tracked almost 46,000 men for 12 years. The men were ages 40 to 75 at the start of the study and had no history of gout.
The researchers found that men who drank six or more cups of coffee a day were 59 percent less likely to develop gout than those who never drank coffee, while the risk was 40 percent lower for men who drank four to five cups a day.
The findings were independent of all other risk factors for gout.
Decaffeinated coffee offered somewhat less protection against gout. Tea drinking and total caffeine consumption did not have an effect on the incidence of gout.
The findings suggest that components of coffee other than caffeine may be responsible for helping prevent gout, said researcher Dr. Hyon K. Choi. For example, coffee contains a strong antioxidant called phenol chlorogenic acid.
While he and his colleagues didn't suggest that men should start drinking four or more cups of coffee a day, they said their findings may help men make an informed decision about coffee consumption.
"Our findings are most directly generalizable to men age 40 and older, the most gout-prevalent population, with no history of gout," Choi noted.
"Given the potential influence of female hormones on the risk of gout in women and an increased role of dietary impact on uric acid levels among patients with existing gout, prospective studies of these populations would be valuable," he added.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about gout.