Sufferers of gout, a debilitating arthritic condition characterised by swollen, painful joints, may only need a daily milk supplement to ward off the symptoms. A clinical trial in New Zealand demonstrated that skimmed milk supplemented with a protein called glycomacropeptide, reduced the flare-ups of gout in most patients involved.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND (JANUARY 27, 2012) (TV3 NEW ZEALAND) -Ken Hayes suffers from gout. When it flares, his elbow throbs with pain.
"If you've ever cut yourself or put your finger in hydrochloric acid you'd know what it feels like," he said.
New Zealand has the highest percentage of gout sufferers in the world. Males of the country's native Maori population are particularly susceptible because of their inherently higher levels of uric acid.
The clinical trial, sponsored by multinational dairy company, Fonterra, and led by Nicola Dalbeth from Auckland University found that adding a supplement to skim milk reduced the frequency of gout flare-ups in most of the patients involved in the trial.
"There was a small percentage of patients who actually had more flares, but the majority of patients had fewer flares," said Dalbeth.
The substance they added to the milk was a combination of a milk protein called glycomacropeptide (GMP) and a milk fat extract called G600, which were then concentrated for patients to consume.
"This is essentially regular skim milk powder that is enriched with products that are naturally occurring within dairy," said Dalbeth.
Dalbeth says the new treatment won'tt replace existing drugs, but could be used in combination with them.
"Certainly, in combination with medical therapy, this is very promising," she said.
The researchers say it's the first time a controlled trial of dietary intervention had reduced the gout flare-ups of patients involved. Ken Hayes is excited by the news.
"Anything that will help people to cope with their problem is worthwhile," he said.
Fonterra is aiming to get its anti-gout formula on the market along with its dairy products, within two years. The company hasn't decided if it will come as powder, a drink or a tablet but according to sufferers like Ken Hayes, whatever its form, it cannot come soon enough.