Gout is now on the rise with more than 8 million people suffering from it, a number which has doubled over the last 50 years. The disease is seemingly the major cause of inflammatory arthritis in men over the age of 40.
Gouty arthritis occurs as a result of abnormal metabolism of uric acid and its accumulation in tissues, blood and especially the joints. It is often an inherited disease that is aggravated by weight gain, obesity, abnormal kidney function, high blood pressure and certain medications.
This seemingly historical ailment was once considered a disease of the upper class and kings of the old era, but it has struck modern-day actors, artists, professional athletes and even young adults. The widely held myth is now shattered with increasing cases reported among men regardless of their social standing. For many people, gout has hindered their careers and ability to live life peacefully while others are working to create awareness about the disease.
Jim Belushi, lead actor from the sitcom According to Jim, suffered from gout because it runs in his family – his father, late aunt and sister all are victims of gout. Jim found out about his gout almost 16 years ago when his big toe swelled up and he merely discarded it as a result of jogging. A year later, the swelling came back and his doctor diagnosed him with gout.
Although for several years, Belushi did not seek any treatment for his condition, he was mobilized one day onstage while performing for Blues Brothers. He later on went to the rheumatologist and took allopurinol (a generic drug that blocks uric acid production). Since then Jim Belushi claims he never had an attack for more than 12 years now.
In his statement to Chicago Tribune, Jim Belushi said, “You can’t even rub a Kleenex across it, it’s the worst. My message to guys is, don’t be an idiot like me and suffer through it. The pain humbled me, so I took action.”
Jim is currently working to raise awareness of the disease. He has partnered with Savient Pharmaceuticals to help launch Check Out Your Gout, an education campaign about gout and a severe form of the condition known as refractory chronic gout. This public service announcement was the first ever recorded during his career.
Other famous figure-heads that have been victims of gout:
- King Henry VIII of England, once an athletic man, fell victim to gout as a result of his lavish lifestyle and poor diet.
- Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century Renaissance man, who discovered electricity, invented bifocals, and was also one of the founding fathers of the United States, also had gout. Fact to be noted here is that the Franklin wasn’t able to attend many meetings for drafting the Declaration of Independence due to gout.
- Another historical figure who suffered from painful gout in both feet was Sir Isaac Newton in 1727, just two years before his death.
- Samuel Johnson, the 18th century British writer, also suffered from gout at 65 and described it as the most severe pain ever.
- Among celebrities of today, Jared Leto faced gout-like symptoms in his feet as a result of the excessive weight loss for Chapter 27.
- Gout had been associated with the ever famous Laurel & Hardy comedy seventy years ago.
Other celebrities that suffered from gout and received treatment are:
- David Wells – the left-handed pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees;
- Ansel Adams – the noted landscape photographer;
- Don Nelson, coach for Golden State Warriors;
- Maurice Cheeks, retired NBA player and assistant coach for Oklahoma City Thunder; and
- Australian soccer pro, Harry Kewell.
With all these modern day celebrities falling victim to gout, it’s clear to see that the condition is no longer reserved for royalty. Luckily many of them have taken the initiative to help raise awareness regarding the disease, so that we don’t have to go through the same pain and discomfort as they did.
Do you know anyone else famous that happened to fall victim to gout?
Have your say about them below: