Gout increases diabetes risk, especially among women

by Bruce Sylvester: Gout is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers reported on Oct 2, 2014 in the British Medical Journal/BMJ. And the risk appears to be significantly greater in women with gout, double that of women who don’t have the condition.

The investigators conducted a  search of  the Health Improvement Network (THIN), a UK database of the anonymous health records of about 7.5 million patients.

Subjects were at least 20 years old. The study period was January 1995 to May 2010. Data on each subject had accumulated for at least a year.

The investigators compared each of the 35,339 cases of newly diagnosed gout to data on five people without gout entered the database at the same time, making 137,056 subjects.

All comparator subjects were the same gender, age, and weight (BMI) as the gout subjects. The authors noted that obesity is a strong risk factor for gout and type 2 diabetes.

The THIN database included data on other potential risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking, GP visits and underlying health problems.

The investigators found that 72% of the newly diagnosed gout cases were in men, with an average age at diagnosis of 62. Women developed gout at an average age of 67.

All subjects diagnosed with gout consumed more alcohol, had more doctor visits, had more health problems and were treated more often with steroids and diuretics more often than subjects who did not develop the condition.

New case diagnosis of type 2 diabetes was significantly higher among people with gout (9.6/1000 person years) than in the comparator group (6.7/1000 patient years).

The investigators noted that even though risk factors were greater for men, women had a higher case rate for developing diabetes, 10.1/1000 person years compared with 9.5/1000 person years. The difference held across all age groups

The difference in absolute risk was 4.5 cases of diabetes per 1000 person years among women compared with 2.3 cases of diabetes per 1000 person years among men. In terms of relative risk, women were 71% more likely to develop diabetes if they had gout, and men were 22% more likely to develop diabetes if they had gout.

The authors concluded that risk factors for diabetes in people with gout, particularly women, should be noted and treated immediately.