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  • Writer's pictureJake Psenka

the link between Uric Acid and Chronic Disease

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

I read something interesting lately. It started with “high levels of serum uric acid in cancer patients significantly and independently predicted reduced survival time.” Most people associate uric acid with a condition that causes big toe pain known as gout, not as a marker of survival in cancer patients. Uric acid has also been found to exhibit strong statistical association with an increased risk of premature cancer death in men and women. Clearly, there is more to uric acid than toe pain. What's more is that elevated serum uric acid has also been demonstrated to be a marker for overall cancer risk and cancer recurrence.

Normal values for serum uric acid are 3-6.8 mg/dl, depending on what lab is used, with men and post-menopausal women having higher levels than premenopausal females. A recent prospective study found that that serum uric acid levels greater than 6.71 in men and 5.41 in women measured at baseline (ie, while they were healthy people) was a risk factor for death from all cancers. Surprisingly, the levels associated with risk are within the normal lab values.

It seems that uric acid may be something of a common threat as it is a common link between conditions known to elevate cancer risk, ie. Obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. These conditions were all known to share a common effect on the body, excess inflammation, and now we know they share elevated uric acid levels as well. It is also well-established that elevated uric acid is a potent independent predictor of hypertension, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

So, maybe you’re thinking what I was thinking.....why not just use a drug to inhibit the production of uric acid? These meds are readily available. While this is a good thought, it turns out that some cancer cells can actually be made more aggressive by using drugs that decrease uric acid production.

There are, however, ways to reduce uric acid levels. The big picture is that inflammation in the body promotes excess uric acid. The easiest way is to avoid excess inflammation is through diet and lifestyle. A great place for many people to start is to simply make a reduction in the carbohydrates they eat. Maybe adopt a vegetarian diet a day or two per week. Maybe try calorie restriction or intermittent fasting. Eating a healthy diet is at the base of the health pyramid upon which all else rests.

What a person eats is not the only thing that can increase inflammation, what isn’t eaten can also be a issue. Deficiencies of certain nutritional factors, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can also worsen and promote inflammation. Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also be problematic.

I’ve started to include uric acid testing in the annual and preventative testing I order in the office, as well as for anyone who is fighting cancer or working to prevent recurrence.

So far it has proven to be another useful tool for helping to prevent and treat disease.

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