Dr. Yuqing Zhang of Boston University School of Medicine said anecdotal evidence suggested purine rich foods -- meat, seafood, beans, peas, lentils, oatmeal, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, yeast and alcohol -- triggered gout attacks, but it wasn't clear whether they prompt flare-ups in the short term.
The study involved 633 people with confirmed gout, who were tracked for more than a year. The average age of the study participants was 54, and 78 percent were men.
They were asked to provide details of history of gout attacks -- including the timing and symptoms of the attack and what drugs they were taking to manage their condition -- and to list any potential triggers in the two days running up to an attack.
The study, published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, found 61 percent drank alcohol, a known risk factor for gout, while 29 percent used water pills, or diuretics, and almost half took allopurinol, a drug used to prevent gout attacks.
During the 12-month monitoring period, 1,247 gout attacks were recorded, mostly in the toe joints, causing intense pain and redness, Zhang said.
The average amount of dietary purine during a two-day period without gout attacks was about one-half ounce, while that consumed in the two days before an attack was three-quarters of an ounce, the study said.