People with gout could be less likely to develop Alzheimer's, according to a new study.
Researchers believe this could be due to the buildup of the waste product uric acid in the bloodstream of those affected by gout.
Uric acid has antioxidant properties, which may protect against the development or progression of neurodegenerative conditions.
Cases of gout, which is often caused by eating too much meat and excessive alcohol consumption, are becoming more common. The condition currently affects around one in 40 people in the UK.
The research into the effect of gout on Alzheimer's risk was led by the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy, and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and at Boston University Medical Center, in Boston, USA.
Researchers analysed data from The Health Improvement Network, an electronic medical record database from general practices that is representative of the UK general population, from January 1st 1995 to December 31st 2013.
The scientists recorded the prevalence of Alzheimer's amongst adults with gout compared with up to five non-gout individuals matched by age, date of study entry, enrolment year and body mass index.
Some 309 new cases of Alzheimer's disease were identified among 59,224 patients with gout and 1,942 cases among 238,805 people in the comparison group over an average five-year follow up. The individuals had an average age of 65.
After taking into account age, sex, BMI, socioeconomic status, lifestyle factors, prior heart conditions and use of heart drugs, the researchers found there was a 24 per cent lower risk of Alzheimer's amongst people with a history of gout.
Dr Laura Phipps of Alzheimer's Research UK told the Independent: "While this work does suggest a positive impact of gout on brain health, many of the risk factors related to gout, including obesity and diabetes, are also linked to increased dementia risk."