Cranberries Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infection

Did you know that drinking cranberry juice regularly can help prevent urinary tract infection (UTI)? A review of past studies confirms this. In addition, cranberry products seem to be especially beneficial for women with recurrent UTIs.

Researchers, however, are not sure how cranberry juice and capsules work or whether they would work. Evidence only suggests that the compounds in cranberries prevent bacteria from attaching to the urinary tract, thus thwarting any infection.

Led by Dr. Chih-Hung Wang of National Taiwan University Hospital, the researchers randomly assigned around 1,500 people, mostly women, into groups; each group to take cranberry products, placebo products or nothing.

Participants assigned to the group taking cranberry products had 38 percent less incidence of UTIs. Women with a medical history of multiple infections had reduced their UTI risk by 47 percent while they were on cranberry products.

Cranberry juices, capsules and other related products are a good alternative for fighting UTIs. Unlike antibiotics, bacteria have a lesser likelihood of building resistance against cranberries. Nevertheless, the option to choose juice over capsules is a matter of choice for those who intend to take them.

The researchers also added that high doses of cranberries may cause stomachaches and other problems for some people; the sugar in cranberry juice may cause problems in people with diabetes.

Dr. Wang’s team, however, warned that the findings “should be interpreted with great caution.”

Bill Gurley, a pharmaceutical researcher from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, has no problems with cranberry products as a medical alternative.

“For individuals that do have problems with recurrent UTIs, incorporating a little cranberry juice in your diet certainly can’t hurt,” Mr. Gurley said. Nevertheless, he added, “We still don’t know exactly what the correct dose should be or what the correct form should be.”

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