Sugary drinks may raise uric acid levels in men

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A higher intake of added sugars or sugar-sweetened drinks may lead to higher blood levels of uric acid in men, a study suggests.

The findings could have “important clinical and public health implications,” Dr. Xiang Gao, of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues warn. High serum uric acid, they explain, has been suggested as a possible risk factor for high blood pressure, heart and vascular disease, as well as metabolic syndrome -- a cluster of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, obesity and high blood sugar levels, that together increase the likelihood of developing heart problems or diabetes.

Uric acid is a natural substance produced in the body by the breakdown of proteins and excreted in urine. Until now, no study has investigated whether sugar added to foods or sugar-sweetened beverages, which are major sources of fructose, are associated with blood uric acid levels in healthy people.

Gao and colleagues examined dietary data on 4,073 men and women participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2002.

They found that subjects with the highest added sugar intake relative to those with lowest intake had significantly higher serum uric acid concentrations, after adjustment for potential confounding factors.

Similarly, subjects with the highest intake of sweetened drinks also had significantly higher serum uric acid compared to those in the lowest intake category.

The investigators note that gender significantly modified the association. A significant association was observed between greater intake of added sugar or sweetened drinks and plasma uric acid among men but not among women.

Fructose-induced high uric acid, what doctors call “hyperuricemia,” might have a causal role in metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, and other chronic disease, the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Hypertension, August 2007.