A Dose of Dairy for Your Joints

Gout patients may reduce risk of flares by consuming enriched skim milk powder

January 25, 2012 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Diet can play a large role in the prevention of chronic pain conditions. Low-fat dairy products, for example, may reduce the risk of gout. So, is it possible that dairy could also help those who already have gout?

Gout patients who eat a daily serving of enriched skim milk powder may reduce their risk of flares (episodes of gout symptoms).

"Talk to your doctor about diet and gout."

Past studies have shown that low-fat dairy products may protect people from developing gout - a form of arthritis that happens when uric acid builds up in the blood, causing joint pain and inflammation. Research also has revealed that certain milk products may have an anti-inflammatory effect.

These previous findings led Nicola Dalbeth, M.D., of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues to ask whether certain dairy products could prevent gout flares.

The researchers found that gout patients who were given skim milk powder enriched with glycomacropeptide (a whey protein) and G600 milk fat extract had a greater reduction in gout flares, compared to those who were given simple powdered lactose.

They also found that patients who consumed the enriched skim milk powder had greater improvements in pain and lower levels of uric acid.

According to the authors, this study is the first controlled trial to test dietary intervention in gout patients. It is important, though, to keep in mind that their research is a proof-of-concept study, meaning they only showed that enriched skim powder is a potential avenue for researchers to explore in studies to come.

This study was fairly small and limited, lasting only three months and involving 120 patients with gout. The researchers compared the effects of three dairy products (simple lactose powder, skim milk power, and enriched skim milk powder) on the frequency of gout flares.

It is promising to find that such a relatively simple addition to one's diet may prevent painful flares of gout. Future research may show that other dairy products and combinations of dairy products are even more effective at preventing gout flares.

The results of this randomized double-blind controlled trial are published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

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Review Date: 
January 25, 2012
Last Updated:
February 1, 2012