Lead Poisoning and Gout; A Look at History.

For thousands of years, mining Lead has been a well-known part of history. It has taken on many uses and forms throughout time and is extensively documented that the poisonous and toxic exposure has lethal consequences. Many of the body tissues and systems such as the intestines, bones, kidneys, heart, nervous and reproductive systems are adversely affected by over-exposure to Lead.

The methods of contamination include water, air, soil, food, paints and cosmetics. The main way to measure how much Lead is present in the body is through blood tests, although X-rays are also used see the changes in blood cells and evidence in the bones.

Often in older times, there were many reports of Lead Poisoning in mine workers, and there continues to be a fair amount of data about other types of occupational exposure in adults. Although the use of Lead has been monitored and curtailed in the last few decades, many older homes and buildings with cracking and peeling Lead paint is the source of Lead poisoning in many children around the world. Old Lead piping is also often cited as a common source of Lead contamination.

In the case of high levels of Lead in the blood, Chelation Therapy is the main course of action to alleviate the effects. Chelation is administered orally and with injections. The chelating agent binds with the Lead on a molecular level and reduces the toxic effects and allows the Lead to be eliminated through the urine at an extremely high rate. The administration of Chelation Therapy is complicated and requires thorough monitoring and specific procedures.

The effects of Lead Poisoning on the Kidneys and Blood is generally well-managed and eliminated with proper treatment. However, the effects on the Central Nervous System are not reversible and show up in obvious cognitive and behavioral patterns.

As stated earlier, there are many different negative effects and conditions that the presence of Lead in the body tissues and blood can produce. However in regards to Gout, the effects of Lead Poisoning on the Renal System are the most direct. High levels of Lead prevent the proper excretion of Uric Acid which causes the build up of acidity and creates the optimum conditions for Monosodium Urate Crystals to form and become a painful Gout Attack.

Historically speaking, Lead was one of the first metals to be mined and smelted because it resisted corrosion and was so malleable. This was in about 6500 BC in what is now the country of Turkey.

It was in Roman times that recorded history mentions the connection between Lead Poisoning and Gout. Many of the aqueducts were constructed of Lead pipes and it was noted that Earthenware pipes seemed to leave water with a more "wholesome" quality, while the Lead piping seemed to have adverse effects on the human body.

Other methods for Lead contamination came from the Lead vessels for eating and drinking, as well as cookware. Also Lead II Acetate or Sugar of Lead was used to sweeten wine and could be added directly or absorbed by the use of Lead cookware so that it leached into reductions of freshly pressed grape juice. These reductions could be used preserve and sweeten wine, marinating, condiments, cosmetics and even as feed to pigs and ducks to improve the taste for their meat. The Gout that occurred due to this type of exposure to Lead was called Saturine Gout; Saturine refers to bodily disorders due to the absorption of Lead.

In more recent times, Lead paint became a greater issue. Lead toxicity was recognized in Australia in 1897 and precautions were implemented. France, Belgium and Austria put a stop to those paints in 1909, and the League of Nations banned them in 1922. However, the laws to discontinue the use of Lead paints in the United States were not passed until 1971 and not fully enforced until 1978.

Similarly, Lead was added to gasoline in the 1920s to make it more combustible and the Lead from the exhaust of automobiles since that time still remains in soil and dust in buildings. In the early 80s, Leaded gasoline was phased out and blood Lead levels have dropped dramatically since then.

While acute levels of Lead in the blood are rare in our modern times, many that are now of the Baby Boomer age, lived through a large time frame of exposure to Lead from paints and gasoline. Could there be a connection to the incidence of Gout rising again our present times?

Also, could there be other environmental toxic factors and substances that play a larger role than high-purine foods and too much alcohol in producing the outbreak of Gout Attacks we are seeing today?

Author's Bio: 

As demonstrated in times of old, environmental substances like “lead” caused extreme problems with gout. Although maintaining a low purine diet and refraining from foods with high purine content, being aware of toxic environmental chemicals is critical to the management of gout.

Bert Middleton, The Gout Killer!