Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eating Cherries Lowers Risk of Gout Attacks by 35% (?)

The journal article is  "Cherry consumption and the risk of recurrent gout attacks".  It appears that the gout sufferers quizzed were aware of the hypothesis underlying the research.  The results are therefore worthless:  Just the usual "trying to please" effect at work.  And the fact that the sample was gathered online could also have biased the results.  Volunteers may have been more likely to believe in the widely-promoted magical powers of various fruits and hence have given replies in accordance  with that expectation

A new study found that patients with gout who consumed cherries over a two-day period showed a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared to those who did not eat the fruit. Findings from this case-crossover study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), also suggest that risk of gout flares was 75% lower when cherry intake was combined with the uric-acid reducing drug, allopurinol, than in periods without exposure to cherries or treatment.

Previous research reports that 8.3 million adults in the U.S. suffer with gout, an inflammatory arthritis triggered by a crystallization of uric acid within the joints that causes excruciating pain and swelling. While there are many treatment options available, gout patients continue to be burdened by recurrent gout attacks, prompting patients and investigators to seek other preventive options such as cherries. Prior studies suggest that cherry products have urate-lowering effects and anti-inflammatory properties, and thus may have the potential to reduce gout pain. However, no study has yet to assess whether cherry consumption could lower risk of gout attacks.

For the present study, lead author Dr. Yuqing Zhang, Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and colleagues recruited 633 gout patients who were followed online for one year. Participants were asked about the date of gout onset, symptoms, medications and risk factors, including cherry and cherry extract intake in the two days prior to the gout attack. A cherry serving was one half cup or 10 to 12 cherries.

Participants had a mean age of 54 years, with 88% being white and 78% of subjects were male. Of those subjects with some form of cherry intake, 35% ate fresh cherries, 2% ingested cherry extract, and 5% consumed both fresh cherry fruit and cherry extract. Researchers documented 1,247 gout attacks during the one-year follow-up period, with 92% occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.

"Our findings indicate that consuming cherries or cherry extract lowers the risk of gout attack," said Dr. Zhang. "The gout flare risk continued to decrease with increasing cherry consumption, up to three servings over two days." The authors found that further cherry intake did not provide any additional benefit. However, the protective effect of cherry intake persisted after taking into account patients' sex, body mass (obesity), purine intake, along with use of alcohol, diuretics and anti-gout medications.

In their editorial, also published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Dr. Allan Gelber from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md. and Dr. Daniel Solomon from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University Medical School in Boston, Mass. highlight the importance of the study by Zhang et al. as it focuses on dietary intake and risk of recurrent gout attacks. While the current findings are promising, Gelber and Solomon "would not advise that patients who suffer from gout attacks abandon standard therapies." Both the editorial and study authors concur that randomized clinical trials are necessary to confirm that consumption of cherry products could prevent gout attacks.


Mercury Policy Project Reveals New Low In Quasi Science

Last week when Mercury Policy Project (MPP) released its agenda driven ramblings in the form of a "report" on mercury in canned tuna, a number of questions were raised about this opinion piece that was neither peer-reviewed nor published. The fact that the report completely ignored the multitude of studies showing the benefits of eating tuna -and the harm that comes when people don't eat enough seafood- had some asking just what type of risk analysis MPP had done in order to put the actual risks in perspective.

Well, now we have that answer and it is, not surprisingly, a new low in quasi science. You'll remember the report's lead author Ned Groth was featured in various news outlets including the venerable Food Chemical News.  Let's take a look at what he told them:

"Additionally, there are some questions to be asked about the report.  Groth admits his organization didn't conduct a survey to find out how commonly tuna is served in schools, adding that he's heard 'anecdotal' references to the frequency of tuna served in lunches of a friend's grandson in New Jersey."

 Really? MPP is basing its current study on "`anecdotal' references to the frequency of tuna served in lunches of a friend's grandson in New Jersey"? Is that the threshold used by FDA, USDA and CDC? I wonder if Dr. Margaret Hamburg at FDA immediately consults that organization's vast library of anecdotal food safety literature authored by a friend's grandson in New Jersey before ordering a risk assessment for any number of products. I'm sure she does. It sounds like the platinum standard in science.

Just to be clear. and just so all the reporters who covered this story know. the Mercury Policy Project chose not to research the actual exposure risk associated with its findings and in fact made up its own policy recommendations based on what it's lead researcher heard about a friend's grandson in New Jersey.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Depends on the type of cherries too.