Among other risk factors, more women than men with gout had high blood pressure or were taking a diuretic, medications used to treat high blood pressure that rids the body of excess water and concentrates the blood.

Obesity was another major risk factor for gout in both sexes, roughly tripling the risk for both men and women.

Study author Hyon Choi, MD, a clinical epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine, says these results show that women do have the ability to minimize their gout risk.

“If you lose weight, you can reduce your risk substantially,” Dr. Choi says. “Or if you can avoid diuretics and use some other medicine as an alternative than you reduce your risk by half. Hypertension is difficult. If you have hypertension, you take care of it, but you cannot get rid of it completely. It’s a little difficult to modify. You can treat it and it might help. But weight and alcohol and diuretics are easier to modify. “

Unlike men, who often get gout around the age of 40, but can see attacks even younger than that, nearly all of the women with gout in this study had passed menopause, and researchers say that’s when women are generally affected by the condition probably because of decreasing estrogen levels. 

“It pretty much says that women can get gout and they can get gout the same way men can get gout. But there’s an advantage of being a woman because you typically get it at an older age so you don’t have as many years of gout,” says Scott Zashin, MD, a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas’ Southwestern Medical School and an attending physician at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Dr. Zashin says for women who suffer from this condition, this study could be helpful.

“Women are much less likely to get gout than men. But this is yet another reason to not be overweight, avoid over-consumption of alcohol. And if you do have a gout attack, look at your medicines like aspirin and diuretics, which could increase your chances of getting gout,” Dr. Zashin says. “I would say, it’s probably not a bad idea to try to work on these things anyway and by doing it you are decreasing your chances of getting gout."