Gout Gets Even

The notorious malady of the 18th century is on the increase in the UK.

'The Gout' by James Gillray, hand-coloured etching, 1799. Bridgeman/courtesy of the Warden & Scholars of New College, OxfordGout, the 18th century’s signature condition, is on the rise in contemporary Britain, with a 60 per cent increase in the last 15 years. In the Georgian era gout’s association with luxurious living led to its status as a badge of honour or a signal the sufferer had reached a certain level in society. As the physician William Heberden commented: ‘This seems to be the favourite disease of the present age in England, wished for by those who have it not, and boasted of by those who fancy they have it.’ In contrast, today’s manifestation of the disease is associated with the nutritional effects of poverty rather than affluence.

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