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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Positive association of tomato consumption with serum urate: support for tomato consumption as an anecdotal trigger of gout flares

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Tanya J Flynn, Murray Cadzow, Nicola Dalbeth, Peter B Jones, Lisa K Stamp, Jennie Harré Hindmarsh, Alwyn S Todd, Robert J Walker, Ruth Topless, Tony R Merriman
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12891-015-0661-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

TJF, RT and TRM helped to design the study, oversee its execution, and prepare the manuscript. ND, PBJ, LKS and JHH helped to provide clinical recruitment and prepare the manuscript. AST and RJW provided data and helped prepare the manuscript. MC helped to analyze data and prepare the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Gout is a consequence of an innate immune reaction to monosodium urate crystals deposited in joints. Acute gout attacks can be triggered by dietary factors that are themselves associated with serum urate levels. Tomato consumption is an anecdotal trigger of gout flares. This study aimed to measure the frequency of tomato consumption as a self-reported trigger of gout attacks in a large New Zealand sample set, and to test the hypothesis that tomato consumption is associated with serum urate levels.


Two thousand fifty one New Zealanders (of Māori, Pacific Island, European or other ancestry) with clinically-ascertained gout were asked about gout trigger foods. European individuals from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC; n = 7517) Study, Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS; n = 2151) and Framingham Heart Study (FHS; n = 3052) were used to test, in multivariate-adjusted analyses, for association between serum urate and tomato intake.


Seventy one percent of people with gout reported having ≥1 gout trigger food. Of these 20 % specifically mentioned tomatoes, the 4th most commonly reported trigger food. There was association between tomato intake and serum urate levels in the ARIC, CHS and FHS combined cohort (β = 0.66 μmolL−1 increase in serum urate per additional serve per week; P = 0.006) - evident in both sexes (men: β = 0.84 μmolL−1, P = 0.035; women: β = 0.59 μmolL −1, P = 0.041).


While our descriptive and observational data are unable to support the claim that tomato consumption is a trigger of gout attacks, the positive association between tomato consumption and serum urate levels suggests that the self-reporting of tomatoes as a dietary trigger by people with gout has a biological basis.
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