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The alcohol intake and drinking behaviour of 24 patients who presented with acute gout in a family practice over a 5-year period were compared with these features of a control population matched for sex, age, weight and use of hyperuricemia-inducing diuretics. The average weekly alcohol intake of the group with gout was twice that of the control group (p less than 0.02), and a statistically significant relation was found between alcohol abuse and acute gout (p less than 0.05). About half of the patients with gout drank excessively. Acute gout should be considered a possible clinical sign of alcohol abuse.