Tomato Consumption Contributes to Gout Flares

It has long been suspected that some foods and lifestyle factors can cause painful acute gout attacks. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that eating tomatoes contributes to the flares.

It has long been suspected that some foods and lifestyle factors can cause painful acute gout attacks. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that eating tomatoes contributes to the flares.

Tomato consumption can cause body changes which result in a gout flare, according to a team of researchers from the Department of Biology at the University of Otago. According to study results published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, they analyzed 2,051 patients with gout from New Zealand. Of those, 71% reported having at least one gout trigger food, with seafood being the most common followed by alcohol, red meat, and tomatoes. The red fruit was mentioned specifically by 20% of patients.

“We though it [was] important to find a biological reason for this to add weight to what gout patients are already saying,” one of the authors Tanya Flynn, a genetics PhD student, said in a news release.

Following the observation, the researchers examined three US studies totaling 12,720 patients with gout. They found an association between tomato consumption and higher levels of uric acid in the blood — which is the major cause of a gout flare-up. The increased serum urate levels were apparent in both males and females.

The researchers were careful to explain that the findings do not suggest that tomatoes cause gout attacks, but rather food has the ability to alter uric acid levels which can contribute to them. Therefore, avoiding tomatoes, for a period of time but not necessarily long-term, may be able to help certain patients dodge gout flares.

“Further intervention studies are needed to determine whether tomatoes should be added to the list of traditional dietary triggers of gout flares, but this research is the first step in supporting this idea,” Flynn concluded.