Gout and Cancer Connection?
Is there a connection between Gout and Cancer? Gout is a common inflammatory disease with incidences largely increasing with each passing year and affecting younger and younger age groups more than ever before. Acute arthritis and hyperuricemia stems from purine metabolism dysfunction, causing urate crystals to deposit into the tissue leading to kidney stones, soft tissue growths, urate nephropathy and/or arthritis. Epidemiological studies have been conducted to estimate the potential association between Gout and Cancer risks. These studies have displayed a preeminent role of Gout in carcinogenesis.
Cellular death and higher turnover rates can bring about hyperuricemia and the formation of tumors (tumorigenesis.) Even though strong evidence exists to show the connection between high serum uric acid levels and an independent increased risk of cancer, the subject remains disputable. After all, uric acid is also a fierce antioxidant and protector of our DNA. Could the higher frequency of heavy alcohol intake, obesity, and increased insulin resistance be the cause of the increased cancer risk, as opposed to trying to link uric acid as the causation? How about sugar? Uric acid is a byproduct of fructose metabolism and tumor cells thrive on sugar. In fact, Dr. Mercola said it best — “The connection between fructose consumption and increased uric acid is so reliable that a uric acid level taken from your blood can actually be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.” Fructose over-indulgence is also behind obesity and diabetes, further strengthening all of these connections. It seems there is still so much to unpack when it comes to these links. Unfortunately, scientific studies tend to narrow in on only one area, while there are many pieces to all of these puzzles.
While elevated risks of certain cancers – namely urological, digestive system, liver and lung cancers – have been observed and associated with Gout, palpable heterogeneity has also existed in these studies. And how about the possibility that the gout medications themselves are carcinogenic? This factor doesn’t seem to be involved in these studies and could certainly raise some eyebrows about their effects and potential roles in these increased risks?
Allopurinol aims to restrict uric acid production by limiting the conversion of the purines. Common side effects include drowsiness, nausea, diarrhea. More danger effects include infection, kidney problems, vision changes, weight loss, increased bleeding and yellowing of the skin/eyes signaling liver dysfunction.
Febuxostat (Uloric) is also used as a xanthine oxidase inhibitor and can cause nausea, joint pain, rashes, gout flares, and liver inconsistencies. Serious side effects include liver damage, heart attack, and strokes.
Prednisone is sometimes used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce the severity and length of a gout attack. Long-term and high doses can cause insomnia, mood swings, depression, personality changes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, acne, peptic ulcers, muscle cramps and weakness, osteoporosis, thinning of the skin, and eye problems.
Colchicine is quite literally as poison and can cause serious gastric disruption leading to diarrhea, nausea, cramping and vomiting. More serious side effects include weakness, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, numbness or tingling of the extremities, paleness, and muscle weakness.
NSAIDS like Indomethacin (Indocin), or even OTC medicines like Ibuprofen, can cause severe intestinal damage with long-term use. They can increase your risk of ulcers, heart attacks, strokes, and reduce the blood flow to the kidneys.
It is far too easy to over-complicate an otherwise simplistic approach. All of the above can be addressed by confronting your diet and lifestyle, rather than worrying what band-aids could be making things even worse. We are so quick to jump onto the prescription drugs, rather than doing what is difficult, and that is change. Change is what we need. Change in our diets, water intake, bad habits, lack of exercise, combatting stress, enhancing our vitamin and mineral resources, etc. – all of which will make us feel better overall AND combat disease – is what’s necessary. It might not be easy, but it is attainable.