Objective: To prospectively study the relation between menopause, postmenopausal hormone use and risk of gout, since female sex hormones have been postulated to decrease gout risk among women.
Methods: In the Nurses' Health Study, we examined the association between menopause, age at menopause, postmenopausal hormone use and risk of self-reported physician diagnosed incident gout among 92,535 women without gout at baseline. We used multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis to adjust for other risk factors for gout such as age, body mass index, diuretic use, hypertension, alcohol intake and dietary factors.
Results: During 16 years of follow-up (1,240,231 person-years), we documented 1,703 incident gout cases. The incidence rate of gout increased from 0.6 per 1000 person-years in women <45 years of age to 2.5 in women ≥75 years of age (p for trend<0.001). Compared with premenopausal women, postmenopausal women had a higher risk of incident gout (multivariate-adjusted relative risk [RR], 1.26; 95% Confidence Interval [CI], 1.03 to 1.55). Among women with natural menopause, women with age at menopause <45 years had a RR of 1.62 (95% CI, 1.12 to 2.33) of gout compared with women with age at menopause 50 to 54 years. Postmenopausal hormone users had a reduced risk of gout (RR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.70 to 0.96).
Conclusion: These prospective findings indicate that menopause increases the risk of gout, whereas postmenopausal hormone therapy modestly reduces gout risk.