The Health Risks of That Fizzy Drink

April 26, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health


In warm weather we turn to a nice cold drink, and often we want one with a bit of fizz to it. But there is mounting research that links carbonated drinks to serious health problems such as cancer and less serious, but debilitating conditions like gout.

US researchers at Georgetown University Medical Centre examined evidence gathered from the Singapore Chinese Health Study where more than 60,000 subjects were followed for as much as 14 years. They came to a startling conclusion: carbonated drinks increase a man’s pancreatic cancer risk.

The really worrying part is that this is not massive consumption, but even drinking just two such beverages a week increased their risk of pancreatic cancer by nearly 90 per cent. Most fizzy drinks are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and that in itself has raised some health concerns in the US recently where they are big consumers of it.

If you are looking for a healthy addition to the diet to lower the risk of prostate cancer then add in some walnuts. They are a rich plant source of omega-3s, the fatty acids also found in cold water fish like salmon and new research reported in April 2010 reported that they should be part of a prostate-healthy diet.

The other problem with carbonated drinks was discovered by the well respected Framingham Heart researchers in the USA who found that subjects who drank one or more fizzy drinks each day were nearly 45 per cent more likely to develop symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including obesity, increased waist circumference, impaired fasting glucose, higher blood pressure, high triglycerides, and higher LDL cholesterol. These drinks also expose the gastrointestinal tract to a high level of acid and that can lead to gastric distension and acid reflux with a possible potential link to oesophageal cancer.

Men in particular should be careful before popping the top off a can of fizzy drink, as researchers at the University of British Columbia found that men who drank one fizzy drink a day increased their risk of developing gout by 45 per cent and two or more a day nearly doubled the risk.

Women with Gout at Increased Heart Risk

February 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


Although gout is characterised as a disease of old colonels who have drunk too much port, the reality is it can affect men and women who may never have had a drink in their lives. It is often genetically inherited and although more common in older men and women after the menopause, the most vulnerable group are usually men over 30.

Now equality has caught up and although it is known that gout increases the risk of a heart attack in men what has just been revealed is that women with gout are at greater risk of a heart attack than the men are.

This research (I know, all research to be taken with a pinch of metaphorical, not actual, salt) was recently published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases and based on a study of more than 9500 gout patients and 48, 000 people without the disease, aged 65 and older in British Columbia, Canada.

The study took place over 7 years and tracked cardiovascular health and they found that compared with women who did not have gout, those who did were 39% more likely to have a heart attack of any kind and 41% more likely to have a non-fatal heart attack. The surprise in the study was that the risks were significantly higher among the women than among the men as men with gout were only 11% more likely than those without the disease to have a fatal or non-fatal heart attack.

Gout is common and caused by inflammation in the joints as a result of excess uric acid deposits, that are a feature of western diets. Factors that can produce gout include other forms of arthritis obesity, weight gain, high alcohol intake, high blood pressure, poorly functioning kidneys and certain drugs.

If you are wondering if you have it, then look for redness, pain and inflammation of the joints, particularly toes and fingers. Natural remedies suggested to help with gout include dietary help by avoiding alcohol and organ meats, particularly liver, tart cherry juice, celery seed, apple cider vinegar and yoga.

Gout in men helped by vitamin C


Crusty old colonels with their feet propped on a cushion and waving a glass of port is the popular stereotype of gout, but sadly the truth is far more common. Traditionally, gout has most commonly developed in middle aged and older people – mostly men – but the condition is now being seen in younger people and also more frequently in women. A recent report suggested that, in the UK, it had increased by about 17 percent between 2007 and 2008. The reasons for this increase are unclear but it may be linked with dietary change and obesity definitely seems to increase the risk of gout.

It’s caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood which forms crystal deposits in and around the joints, a form of arthritis, which is what causes the pain and inflammation typical of the condition. However a new study in British Columbia, Vancouver, has some good news – at least for men. The researchers suggest that vitamin C might affect the reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys, increase the speed at which the kidneys work, or protect against inflammation; all of which can reduce the risk of gout.

They examined the relationship between vitamin C intake and gout between 1986 and 2006 in 46,994 men and during 20 years of follow-up, 1,317 men developed gout. Compared with men who had a vitamin C intake of less than 250 milligrams per day, the relative risk of gout was 17 percent lower for those with a daily intake of 500 to 999 milligrams, 34 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,000 to 1,499 milligrams per day and 45 percent lower for those with an intake of 1,500 milligrams per day or higher. For every 500-milligram increase in their vitamin C intake, the men’s risk for gout appeared to decrease by 17 percent. Compared with men who did not take vitamin C supplements, those who took 1,000 to 1,499 supplemental milligrams per day had a 34 percent lower risk of gout and those who took 1,500 supplemental milligrams per day had a 45 percent lower risk. and vitamin C appears to reduce the levels of uric acid in the blood.

What all those boring statistics actually mean is that vitamin C definitely seems to lower a man’s risk of gout so it’s worth supplementing to a level of around 1000mg a day, best in two doses of 500mg if you have any history of gout in your family

Soft drinks & gout

MEN who drink five or six sweetened soft drinks a week have a 29% higher chance of developing gout (a form of arthritis), when compared with men who have less than one soft drink a month. If a daily soft drink is on the menu then the risk increases to 45%, and thirsty chaps who have two or more a day have a staggering 85% higher risk of developing gout. The study was reported in the British Medical Journal and pointed out that gout particularly tends to affect men over the age of 39 – so if you are past that birthday it might be time to switch drinks, and don’t switch to low calorie drinks as they use artificial sweeteners which are known to aggravate gout.

Get rid of gout pain

Unfortunately it is seen as a bit of a joke, an old man’s disease caused by too much port, but gout is far from funny. It is in fact a form of arthritis, and the pain in the infected joints can be severe and is caused when the body produces or retains too much uric acid. The acid forms sharp crystals in soft connective tissue around the joints with the big toe being a primary focus. Gout does not appear overnight, it is the result of years of more uric acid being produced than you expel on a daily basis.

Why would you produce excess uric acid? It can be caused by obesity, high intake of diuretic drugs, excessive alcohol consumption, and hereditary factors. Certain foods are recognised as being triggers for an attack of gout so the first step is to eliminate as many as you can.

Common triggers include:

  • High protein and diuretic foods such as organ meats
  • Asparagus and broccoli
  • Coffee, orange juice
  • soft drinks**

**Those soft drinks are a new addition to the list of potential triggers. A study done over the past 12 years by researchers at the University of British Columbia has shown that a frequent intake of sugar-sweetened soft drinks was significantly linked to gout risk. If you know someone who drinks just one soft drink a day they are increasing their gout risk by 45%, and two or more a day leaps to 85%. ‘Healthy’ drinks like apple and orange juice are not immune either as they have high levels of fructose. Bizarrely, diet drinks which contain sweeteners do not carry a risk of gout – but they do pose other health problems.

Natural help is available for gout, and the first step would be to cut out all soft drinks and substitute with plain water to help eliminate the uric acid crystals. The next best thing is to eat cherries and drink their juice. Cherries help prompt uric acid excretion and many people have found that adding them to their diet helps relieve the sharp pain associated with gout.

Two other nature’s helpers are celery seed extract and extract of juniper and some sufferers have kept themselves attack free by also taking up yoga. So no need to prop your foot up on a cushion and wait for the pain to go away, have a large bag of cherries and a bottle of still water and you could soon be hopping about again.