Nationwide Study Finds Increased Risk of Cancer in Middle-Aged Patients With Gout

Prolonged hyperuricemia, elevated levels of serum uric acid in the blood, may result in gout. The common inflammatory form of arthritis causes pain and swelling around the joints. Gout has been linked with several comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. Several studies have also reported an association between gout and a higher incidence of cancer. However, major confounding factors such as obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and heavy alcohol consumption are common in patients with gout. Additionally, increased age is a risk factor for both gout and cancer.

A study, aimed to investigate the risk of cancer, cancer mortality, and site-specific cancer types in a middle-aged population with gout, was published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Researchers utilized a national health insurance database to identify patients aged 41 to 55 years with newly diagnosed gout. Gout patients were matched with a control cohort for comparison. The main outcome measurement was newly diagnosed cancer, and secondary outcomes included was all-cause mortality, cancer mortality, and cancer by site-specific cancer type.

The total study population comprised 4176 patients with gout and 8352 controls. The mean age and follow-up duration was 48.8 years and 10.1 years, respectively. Overall, the rates of newly diagnosed cancer was significantly different between those with gout and the control cohort, with the proportion of patients who developed cancer being significantly higher in patients with gout. Furthermore, the incidence of all-cause mortality and cancer mortality was higher in patients with gout.

In a subgroup analysis conducted by researchers, patients with gout had a higher risk for developing stomach cancer compared with those in the control cohort. Other forms of cancer that were more common in patients with gout included head and neck cancer and hematologic or lymphoid cancers. “These diverse results may be influenced by methodology, ethnicity, and environmental exposure,” the researchers remarked.

Reflecting on the results of their study, researchers concluded that, “Patients with gout have a higher risk of cancer, as well as both all-cause and cancer mortality, compared with the general population aged 41 to 55 years. Therefore, special attention should be paid to higher cancer risk and cancer mortality in patients with gout who are diagnosed in middle age.”