There are more than one hundred types of arthritis, but gout is among the most common and the most painful.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood, a condition called hyperuricemia. In addition to causing excruciating attacks, if left untreated, the excess uric acid builds up into deposits. These tophi can lodge in the joints, causing mobility issues and long-term joint damage. People who have experienced a gout attack liken it to rubbing shards of glass in their joints. In addition to pain, gout is linked with many other health conditions.
In honor of Men’s Health Month this June, here are five facts that men should know about gout and how it affects their health.
- Men are more likely to have gout than women. In fact, men are four times as likely to have gout than women. It’s a well-documented gender imbalance that’s driven by a combination of hormones, genetics and other factors.
- Erectile dysfunction is more common in men who have gout. Research shows erectile dysfunction is present in most men with gout and is frequently severe. This finding supports calls for screening all men with gout for the presence of ED. The co-occurring conditions can both be treated.
- Gout may lead to increased risk of cancer. Increased levels of uric acid can contribute to inflammation, which can lead to the development of cancer. According to some research, patients with gout are 50% more likely to develop cancer, with prostate cancer – the second leading cause of cancer death among men – being the most common.
- Gout is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular disease death. Gout is associated with higher rates of heart disease mortality, which is the kills more than 358,000 men annually. The two conditions share many common comorbidities including hypertension, smoking, diabetes and obesity.
- Men are less likely to seek treatment. Despite the excruciating pain of gout, many men put off seeing a health care provider. Research found over 40% of men only go to the doctor when they think they have a serious medical condition. Gout is serious. And it becomes more serious the longer it’s ignored. That’s why seeing a health care provider and initiating treatment shouldn’t be delayed.
This month’s observance encourages men to take charge of their health by getting screenings and initiating treatment for manageable conditions. Addressing gout and its related conditions should be among those behaviors men aim to improve this June and throughout the year.