Causes and Risk Factors for Gout

Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, approximately 18% of people who develop gout have a family history of the condition. Diseases and conditions that increase the risk include diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, and sickle cell anemia.

Regularly drinking alcohol interferes with the removal of uric acid from the body and can increase the risk for developing gout. Other risk factors include the following:

  • Exposure to lead in the environment
  • High dietary intake of rich foods that contain purine (e.g., cream sauces, red meat, sardines, liver, scallops)
  • Medications that may interfere with the body's ability to remove uric acid (e.g., aspirin, diuretics, levodopa [used to treat Parkinson's disease])

Cyclosporine (e.g., Gengraf®), which is a medication used to suppress the body's immune system and prevent rejection after organ transplant, also increases the risk for developing gout.

Publication Review By: John J. Swierzewski, D.P.M., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 23 Nov 2011