BOSTON, April 7 (UPI) -- Many consider gout to be "the disease of kings" or a "rich man's disease," but it is becoming increasingly common, a U.S. newsletter says.
The Harvard Health Letter says gout is a form of arthritis, which is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood and when the uric acid crystallizes in the joints, it causes inflammation and pain.
"Gout is becoming more common partly because of the obesity epidemic and dietary choices such as meat, seafood, sugar and alcohol -- especially beer -- can trigger attacks of gout," the newsletter says.
"Soda drinkers are also at risk, since there is evidence that fructose, the main sweetener in many sugared beverages, increases uric acid levels in the blood."
High blood pressure is another risk factor and diuretics taken to lower blood pressure can also increase uric acid levels.
Drug therapy is a consideration if there are gout attacks three or more times a year, the attacks are severe and difficult to control, or attacks affect several joints, the newsletter says.