ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Licorice May Block Absorption of Organ Transplant Drug
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
CANCER
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Gummy Bears Join Cavity Fight
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
Walkable Neighborhoods Keep the Pounds Off
EYE CARE, VISION
Vision Test for Young Children Called Unreliable
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Gene-Transfer Proves Safe for Vision Problem
FITNESS
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
A Little Chocolate May Do the Heart Good
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Treat Kids to a Safe Halloween
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Backpack Safety Should Be on Back-to-School Lists
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Lots of Sex May Prevent Erectile Dysfunction
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Optimism May Boost Immune System
How to Attack Holiday Stress Head-On
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Add your Article

Basketball Star Details His Struggle With Gout

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- He's a 15-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, a four-time NBA All-Star, and head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. He's basketball great Maurice Cheeks.

And he's got gout.

"I had no idea what gout was," Cheeks said, describing his first encounter -- at the age of 46 -- with the often-debilitating arthritic condition. "Never heard of it. Never talked to anyone about it, and then I started to find out that there were many other people with this condition."

Cheeks made his remarks at a press conference Thursday in New York City to mark the second annual National Gout Awareness Day, sponsored by the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society (GUAES). The goal is to draw attention to the risks, symptoms, and treatments associated with a condition that strikes between three million and five million adult Americans, and to debunk stereotypes about the so-called "disease of kings."

According to GUAES, gouty arthritis results from a condition known as hyperuricemia -- the build-up of abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood. A normal waste product that forms from the breakdown of purines found in cells and a wide range of foods, uric acid is usually dissolved in the blood, passed through the kidney, and excreted through urine.

But in excess amounts, sodium urate can crystallize. In some cases, the resulting needle-like formations lodge and jab into joints, bringing about sudden and painful bouts of tenderness, redness, stiffness, and swelling in the big toe, instep, ankle, heel, knee, wrist, finger, or elbow.

People typically describe the pain as akin to the trauma of childbirth or breaking a bone.

"I don't think I can adequately express the pain," Cheeks said.

"I once had a severe ankle sprain, and in order for me to play, they had to wrap it and wrap it and wrap it, because any time I put my foot down, I was not able to play," he added. "But the game was so important. So I played, even though that was probably my worst pain ever. And that pain doesn't even compare to gout."

In February, Cheeks' fourth acute attack of gout triggered inflammation so severe he had to coach several 76ers games with one shoe on and one shoe off. For many people, an attack can turn the mere act of standing and walking into an unmanageable ordeal.

Today, gout is the most common form of arthritis among men over 40. Women also suffer from the condition, but typically after menopause, according to GUAES.

Obesity and the excessive consumption of purine-rich foods -- such as meats, shellfish, and hard liquor and beer -- have long been associated with a risk for gout. And portly figures of history, such as Henry VIII, Benjamin Franklin and Isaac Newton -- all suffered from gout, popularizing the view that it's an illness of the privileged and out-of-shape.

"But [Maurice Cheeks] defies the stereotypes," said Dr. N. Lawrence Edwards, chairman of GUAES, and vice chair of the department of medicine at the University of Florida, who spoke at the press conference.

While diet does play some role in who get gout, genetics is a major factor, with one in four people having a family history of gout, Edwards said.

"There is an assumption that this is a self-inflicted disease," noted Edwards. "That's the stereotype out there. But clearly Coach Cheeks represents none of this. It's an equal opportunity employer. It affects all strata of society."

Edwards agreed that lifestyle changes, such as keeping in shape and watching one's diet, could help somewhat reduce -- though probably not eliminate -- the risk for acute attacks among people with high levels of uric acid.

He stressed the importance of seeing a doctor and getting a uric acid reading for those who've experienced an attack -- with the aim of getting the serum acid level below the danger point of 6.8 mg/dL. And for many patients hovering above the cut-off, chronic daily medications may be the most effective way to fight back, he said.

"If any of you ever had [gout], you would know you would try to do everything possible to try and prevent it," Cheeks said with a wry smile. "Because once it's full-blown, there's not a whole lot you can do."

More information

To learn more, visit the Gout & Uric Acid Education Society.



SOURCES: Maurice Cheeks, head coach, Philadelphia 76ers; N. Lawrence Edwards, M.D., chairman, Gout & Uric Acid Education Society, and vice chair, department of medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville

Last Updated: May 23, 2008

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