this is a good overview with lots of info:
Uric acid is generated as we metabolize the food we eat and as the body's tissues are broken down during normal cell turnover. Some people with gout generate too much uric acid (10% of those affected) and are medically referred to as "over-producers." Other people with gout do not effectively eliminate their uric acid into the urine (90%) and are medically referred to as under-excreters. Genetics (our inherited genes), gender, and nutrition (alcoholism, obesity) play key roles in the development of gout. Gout is not contagious.
If your parents have gout, then you have a 20% chance of developing it.
British people are five times more likely to develop gout.
American blacks, but not African blacks, are more likely to have gout than other populations.
Intake of alcoholic beverages, especially beer, increases the risk for gout.
Diets rich in red meats, internal organs, yeast, and oily fish increase the risk for gout.
Uric acid levels increase at puberty in men and at menopause in women, so men first develop gout at an earlier age (after puberty) than do women (after menopause). Gout in premenopausal women is distinctly unusual.
Attacks of gouty arthritis can be precipitated when there is a sudden change in uric acid levels, which may be caused by:
overindulgence in alcohol and red meats,
starvation and dehydration,
IV contrast dyes,
diuretics and some other anti-hypertensive medications,
aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin),
nicotinic acid (B-3-50, B3-500-Gr, Niacin SR, Niacor, Niaspan ER, Slo-Niacin),
allopurinol (Zyloprim) and probenecid (Benemid),
If you are at risk for gout, you should do the following:
Eat a low-cholesterol, low-fat diet. People with gout have a higher risk for heart disease. This diet would not only lower your risk for gout but also your risk for heart disease. Control your cholesterol.
Avoid foods that are high in purines (the biochemical in foods that is metabolized into uric acid), including shellfish and red meats.
Slowly lose weight. This can lower your uric acid levels. Losing weight too rapidly can occasionally precipitate gout attacks.
Restrict your intake of alcohol, especially beer.
Increase your intake of dairy products, such as nonfat milk and yogurt, because they can lower the frequency of gout attacks.
Avoid fructose, such as in corn syrup.
Talk to your doctor if you are taking thiazide diuretics (hydrochlorothiazide, HCTZ), low-dose aspirin, levodopa (Larodopa), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), or nicotinic acid.
If you have had an attack of gouty arthritis, you should do all of the above and follow the regimen prescribed by your physician. The adequate prevention of gouty arthritis may involve lifelong medical therapy.