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Myth Confirmed: Cranberries Do Thwart UTIs

Related Product Aid Chronic Sufferers

Cranberry juice may help battle chronic UTIs.

By John Salak –

Sometimes myths prove to be true. Consider the long-held wisdom that cranberry juice can help prevent women from developing urinary tract infections (UTIs). Well, a new global study reports that cranberry products are effective at blocking these problems before they get started.

The study specifically determined cranberry juice and its supplements reduce the risk of repeat symptomatic UTIs in women by more than a quarter, in children by more than half, and in people susceptible to UTI following medical interventions by just more than 50 percent.

The report acknowledges that cranberry juice and healthcare supplements that commonly include the fruit have been promoted to ward off these infections for years but with little to no scientific support to back the claim.

This assessment closed that gap thanks to work by Australian scientists at Flinders University and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, who reviewed 50 more recent trials on the impact of these products that included almost 9,000 participants.

“This incredible result didn’t surprise us, as we’re taught that when there’s more and better evidence, the truth will ultimately come out. UTIs are horrible and very common; about a third of women will experience one, as will many elderly people and people with bladder issues from spinal cord injury or other conditions,” noted Dr. Gabrielle Williams, the study’s lead author.

“Even back in 1973, my mum was told to try cranberry juice to prevent her horrible and frequent UTIs, and for her, it’s been a savior. Despite me niggling in her ear about evidence, she’s continued to take it daily, first as the nasty sour juice and, in recent years, the easy-to-swallow capsules. As soon as she stops, wham, the symptoms are back. As usual, it turns out that Mum was right! Cranberry products can help some women prevent UTIs.”

The findings are significant because they promote a way to thwart UTIs. Left untreated, it can impact the kidneys, cause severe pain and lead to complications, including sepsis in very severe cases. This natural treatment approach may be valuable for people chronically affected by UTIs.

“Most UTIs are effectively, and pretty quickly, treated with antibiotics, sometimes as little as one dose can cure the problem. Unfortunately, in some people, UTIs keep coming back,” explained study co-author Dr. Jacqueline Stephens. “Without being sure if or how it works, some healthcare providers began suggesting it to their patients. It was a harmless, easy option at the time. Even centuries ago, Native Americans reportedly ate cranberries for bladder problems, leading somewhat more recently to laboratory scientists exploring what it was in cranberries that helped and how it might work.”

The Australian team examined methods to determine cranberry juice benefits, along with related products, including comparing their impact on UTIs to placebos with no treatment at all. The research examined whether drinking cranberry juice or taking capsules reduced the number of UTIs in women with recurrent cases, in children and in people susceptible to UTIs following medical interventions such as bladder radiotherapy.

Few, if any, significant side effects were reported by those drinking the juice or taking supplements. The researchers added they did not find enough information to determine if cranberry products are more or less effective, compared to antibiotics or probiotics in preventing further UTIs. The data also didn’t show any benefit for elderly people, pregnant women or people with bladder emptying problems.

Nonetheless, the research broke important ground in the fight against UTIs.

“The new evidence shows a very positive finding that cranberry juice can prevent UTI in susceptible people,” said senior author Professor Jonathan Craig. “We have shown the efficacy of cranberry products for the treatment of UTIs using all the evidence published on this topic since the mid-nineties. The earlier versions of this review didn’t have enough evidence to determine efficacy, and subsequent clinical trials showed varied results. In this updated review, the volume of data has shown this new finding.”




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