Eating cherries over a two-day period may help to lower the risk of gout attacks by 35 percent, finds a study.
Findings from this case-crossover study also suggest that risk of gout flares was 75 percent lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol, than in periods without exposure to cherries or treatment.
Gout is an inflammatory arthritis triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints that causes excruciating pain and swelling.
While there are many treatment options available, gout patients continue to be burdened by recurrent gout attacks, prompting patients and investigators to seek other preventive options such as cherries.
Prior studies suggest that cherry products have urate-lowering effects and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus may have the potential to reduce gout pain. However, no study has yet to assess whether cherry consumption could lower risk of gout attacks.
For the present study, lead author Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and colleagues recruited 633 gout patients who were followed online for one year.
Participants were asked about the date of gout onset, symptoms, medications and risk factors, including cherry and cherry extract intake in the two days prior to the gout attack. A cherry serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.
"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack," said Dr. Zhang.
"The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days," the researcher stated.
The researchers found that further cherry intake did not provide any additional benefit. However, the protective effect of cherry intake persisted after taking into account patients' sex, body mass (obesity), purine intake, along with use of alcohol, diuretics and anti-gout medications.
Findings of the study have been published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).