High uric acid levels in the blood are a precursor of gout, the most common inflammatory arthritis in adult men. It is believed that coffee and tea consumption may affect uric acid levels but only one study has been conducted to date. A new large-scale study published in the June 2007 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare) examined the relationship between coffee, tea, caffeine intake, and uric acid levels and found that coffee consumption is associated with lower uric acid levels but that this appears to be due to components other than caffeine.
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world; more than 50 percent of Americans drink it at the average rate of 2 cups per day. Because of this widespread consumption, its potential effects have important implications for public and individual health. Led by Hyon K. Choi, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, the current study was based on the U.S. Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted between 1988 and 1994. It included over 14,000 men and women at least 20 years old who consented to a medical exam in which blood and urine specimens were obtained. Coffee and tea consumption were determined based on responses to a food questionnaire that assessed intake over the previous month. Researchers estimated the amount of caffeine per cup of coffee or tea using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The results showed that levels of uric acid in the blood significantly decreased with increasing coffee intake, but not with tea intake. In addition, there was no association between total caffeine intake from beverages and uric acid levels. These results were similar to those found in the only previous study on the topic, which was conducted in Japan. Interestingly, there was an association between decaffeinated coffe
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