Four cups of coffee a day can more than halve the risk of gout in women, according to researchers.
They found those drinking that amount or more were 57 per cent less likely to suffer the agony of a gout attack than those who drank none. Two to four cups lowered the chances of gout by about 22 per cent but one a day only by three per cent.
Gout has seen a resurgence in the UK in recent years, and now around 250,000 people suffer the painful condition. It is estimated that drugs to treat it cost the NHS more than £6million a year.
Once dubbed 'the disease of kings', it affects men more than women and has traditionally been associated with over-indulgence in certain foods and drink. Recent evidence suggests younger adults in the UK are being affected, partly because of the increase in obesity. Diet and excess alcohol are trigger factors for the condition, though some people have a genetic predisposition to it.
It develops when uric acid, a natural byproduct, is not disposed of properly by the body. During an attack, the joint of the big toe swells and becomes so sore that even a sheet resting on it can produce unbearable pain. Attacks can last up to a week.