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Menopause, postmenopausal hormone use and risk of incident gout

Abstract

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, 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 was examined. Multivariate proportional hazards regression analysis was used 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), 1703 incident gout cases were recorded. 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 a 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 50–54 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.

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