Uric acid is a waste product normally present in the blood as a result of the breakdown of purines. Excessive amounts of uric acid can cause crystals to form in the joints and cause gout. Although uric acid can act as an antioxidant, excess serum accumulation is often associated with cardiovascular disease.
It is not known whether this is causative (e.g., by acting as a prooxidant ) or a protective reaction taking advantage of urate’s antioxidant properties. High uric acid can cause kidney stones, gouts in joints, and disable the body to produce purines, which build up the genetic “blueprint”
Uric acid is present in human urine only in extremely small amounts but constitutes a large part of the body waste matter of birds (see guano) and of reptiles. It collects sometimes in the human kidneys or bladder in calculi, or stones, and is responsible, when present in tissues or deposited upon bones in the form of urates, for gouty conditions (see gout). It occurs also in normal human blood.
Causes of high uric acid levels in your blood (hyperuricemia) include:
Â· Certain medications, including low-dose aspirin, diuretics and some high blood pressure drugs
Â· Certain diseases that have a high cell turnover rate, such as leukemia, lymphoma or psoriasis
Â· Excessive alcohol use
Â· Diets high in purines
Coffee – the breakthrough?
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 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.
Other examples of high purine sources include: sweetbreads, anchovies, sardines, liver, beef kidneys, brains, meat extracts (e.g Oxo, Bovril), herring, mackerel, scallops, game meats, and gravy. A moderate amount of purine is also contained in beef, pork, poultry, fish and seafood, asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, green peas, lentils, dried peas, beans, oatmeal, wheat bran and wheat germ.
The treatment of uric acid
Treatment is directed at reducing uric acid levels and may include lifestyle changes such as:
Â· Losing weight if you’re overweight
Â· Avoiding foods high in purines
Â· Discontinuing use of medications that may be causing elevated uric acid levels
Â· Avoiding alcohol
Â· Maintaining a healthy weight