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Age and uric acid

 

Clinical bottom line

Serum uric acid increased with age in Japanese men and women, irrespective of body mass index and alcohol consumption. There may also be a cohort effect, with higher uric acid in younger cohorts of men and lower uric acid in younger cohort of women.


Reference


M Kuzuya et al. Effect of aging on serum uric acid levels: longitudinal changes in a large Japanese population group. Journal of Gerontology 2002 57A: M660-M664.


Study

Subjects were 50,000 Japanese men and 30,000 Japanese women with an average age of about 44 years receiving annual examinations at a health centre between 1989 and 1998. Subjects being treated for hyperuricaemia were excluded. The average number of visits was three times, and about 60% attended at least one follow up examination.

The examination included a questionnaire, physical examination, demographics and blood analysis. Alcohol consumption was by self-reported questionnaire.

Results

In men the overall mean serum uric acid was about 350 µmol/L, and declined slightly between 30 and 70 years. For women the mean was 250 µmol/L but rose after about age 45.

Longitudinal changes in different birth cohorts (by decade) gave a different picture. Over time serum uric acid levels rose in all cohorts, but men in more recent birth cohorts had higher serum uric acid levels than men in older cohort. For instance, men born between 1920 and 1929 has values rising from 340 µmol/L to 360 µmol/L, while those born between 1960 and 1969 had values rising from about 350 µmol/L to 375 µmol/L, both over about 20 years. For women this cohort effect was not so well established, and women born more recently may have had lower serum uric acid levels.

The results may have been confounded by BMI. For men BMI changes with age after 30 years were not dramatic, but were so for women. Women in the most recent cohort had a much lower BMI than women in older cohorts.

BMI and alcohol consumption were associated with higher serum uric acid in men and women.

Comment

This study confirms that serum uric acid levels increase with age, with body mass, and with alcohol consumption. There may also be complicated effects depending on when (and probably where) people were born, and the social conditions throughout their lives.