AsianScientist (Dec. 12, 2013) – It is historically known as ‘the king of diseases and the disease of kings’ and was long thought to be caused by an overindulgent lifestyle, but now scientists at The University of Nottingham have confirmed that gout strongly runs in families.
Researchers in the Division of Rheumatology, Orthopedics and Dermatology studied the entire Taiwanese population of 23 million where gout is most prevalent in the world. The findings are published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
By examining 4.2 million identifiable families, the scientists found compelling evidence that the disease clusters in families, with increased risks for people with first and second degree relatives suffering from gout.
“Our results confirm the clinical belief that gout strongly clusters within families. In Taiwan the risk of an individual with any first-degree relative suffering from gout is approximately twice that of the normal population,” said Dr. Chang Fu Kuo, lead researcher on the project.
According to the study, the risk increases with the number of the first-degree relatives affected. Having a twin brother with gout carries a eight-fold risk, whereas having a parent or offspring with gout has a two-fold risk.
The study also demonstrated that in addition to the genetic risk, shared environment factors play a substantial role in the etiology of gout, and the influences of environmental and genetic factors on the risk of gout are different in men and women. Genetic factors contribute one-third in men and one-fifth in women.
“We found evidence for both shared environmental factors and genetic factors in predisposing to gout within families, with environmental factors contributing a higher proportional risk. Both genetic and environmental factors play a role in gout pathogenesis. Having an affected family member increases the risk but part of the risk comes from modifiable shared environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle,” said Professor Michael Doherty, head of the Academic Rheumatology.
Source: The University of Nottingham; Photo:handarmdoc/Flickr/CC.
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