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

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2015 Aug 19:16:196. doi: 10.1186/s12891-015-0661-8.


Background: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: Seventy one percent of people with gout reported having ≥1 gout trigger food. Of these 20% specifically mentioned tomatoes, the 4(th) 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).

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gout / blood*
  • Gout / chemically induced*
  • Gout / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Hyperuricemia / blood
  • Hyperuricemia / chemically induced
  • Hyperuricemia / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / ethnology
  • New Zealand / ethnology
  • Solanum lycopersicum / adverse effects*
  • Solanum lycopersicum / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uric Acid / blood*
  • White People / ethnology
  • Young Adult


  • Uric Acid