Gout is a condition marked by increased levels of uric acid in the blood. The uric acid crystallizes and is deposited in the joints, usually the big toe, and causes significant pain.
Alternatively, studies have shown that high serum uric acid levels appear to lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
To determine if people with high serum uric acid levels and gout have a lower risk of developing Parkinson’s, researchers from the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada in Vancouver performed a cohort study utilizing data from the British Columbia Linked Health Database and PharmaCare data that provided prescription drug data for people over 65.
The study included data on 11,258 gout patients and 56,199 controls. The study covered the years 1991 through 2004. Of the total study population, 72% were being treated with at least 1 prescription drug during the study period.
During the average 8 year follow-up period, there were 1,182 new cases of Parkinson’s. Among those patients with a history of gout, there was a 30% decrease in the risk of developing Parkinson’s. This was independent of age, sex, prior medical conditions or use of NSAIDs or diuretics.
Researchers have theorized that uric acid exerts antioxidant effects on neurons and can protect against oxidative stress, a prominent contributor to neuron degeneration in Parkinson’s.
As new therapies are developed for treatment of gout by lowering the serum uric acid levels, the researchers cautioned that lowering uric acid levels too much for too long may have harmful neurodegenerative consequences.