For decades, gout has been considered a disease linked to shared modifiable factors, such as lifestyle and diet, but new research suggests that it could run in the family as well. According to a team from the University of Nottingham, having close relatives with gout could also heighten the risk of developing the disease, albeit to a lower extent.
The findings, published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, are based on results from a study in Taiwan, a country known for its high number of people with the disease. The researchers examined data concerning the country´s entire population, which numbers 23 million, finding that the condition clusters in families. In Taiwan in particular, the risk of developing gout was around twice as high for a person with any first-degree relative suffering from the disease, said the study´s lead author Dr. Chang-Fu Kuo, of Nottingham´s School of Medicine and also of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
The researchers examined 4.2 million families affected by the disease, finding evidence that it runs strongly in families and suggesting it could be partially genetic, with the risk being more substantial if the number of first-degree relatives with gout is higher. They established that a person is eight times more likely to develop gout if they have a twin brother with the disease, while the risk increases two-fold if you have a parent or child with gout.
The study also revealed that shared environmental factors also play a role and that gout is linked with heart attack, stroke and kidney failure as well.