Cranberry Juice Ineffective Against Cystitis, Bladder Infections

Authors: Medical News Today

Editor's Choice
Main Category: Urology / Nephrology
Also Included In: Women's Health / Gynecology;  Nutrition / Diet
Article Date: 19 Oct 2012 - 1:00 PDT

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Cranberry Juice Ineffective Against Cystitis, Bladder Infections

Patient / Public:1 star

3.5 (2 votes)

Healthcare Prof:Glass of cranberry juice

1 (1 votes)

Article opinions: 3 posts

Cranberry extract does not prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder infections, such as cystitis, while any slight advantage would only be seen in women with recurrent UTIs. This is the conclusion of a new study, published in The Cochrane Library.

Cranberries and cranberry juice have long been used to ward off UTIs, however, it is unclear how exactly they prevent infection. One theory, reported at a 2010 meeting of the American Chemical Society, suggests that certain sugars and flavanol compounds, present in cranberries, deter bacteria from sticking to cells that line the urinary tract.

For this new study Dr. Ruth Jepson and her team from the University of Stirling examined data from 24 studies that included a total of 4,473 people. The treatment groups were given cranberry juice, capsules or tablets, and those in control groups had placebo cranberry products, methenamine hippurate, antibiotics, lactobacillus, water, or nothing.

The authors pointed out that the results show that cranberry juice is significantly less beneficial than previous research has stated.

Cranberry Juice Ineffective Against Cystitis, Bladder Infections
Cranberry juice was previously believed to offer protection against cystitis and other urinary tract infections.
Dr. Jepson explained: "In the studies where participants were given juice, there were large numbers of drop-outs, suggesting it might not be easy to drink over long time periods. A common problem with studies evaluating cranberry tablets or capsules was that they rarely reported the amount of active ingredient, so it was unclear whether levels would have been high enough to have any effect."

In earlier studies, slight benefits were seen for women suffering from recurrent infections, but they would need to drink two glasses of cranberry juice per day for extensive periods of time to prevent one infection.

Other studies have also proven that antibiotics are more effective than cranberry. In collaboration with the new evidence, researchers have concluded that cranberry juice cannot effectively prevent UTIs.

Dr. Jepson does not recommend more studies, saying:

"We can't see a particular need for more studies of the effect of cranberry juice, as the majority of existing studies indicate that the benefit is small at best, and the studies have high drop-out rates."

Further studies could only be justified for women with recurrent UTIs, and only for cranberry products such as capsules or tablets that have the recommended amount of active ingredient.

Written by Kelly Fitzgerald
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

Visit our urology / nephrology section for the latest news on this subject.
"Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections"
Ruth G Jepson, Gabrielle Williams, Jonathan C Craign
The Cochrane Library, October 2012, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001321.pub5
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Research been published?

posted by Mollie Smith on 21 Oct 2012 at 9:35 am

Amy Howell, have any of your studies in the last 20 years been recognized and published? I would be interested in seeing them.

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Don't stop drinking cranberry juice

posted by Amy Howell PhD on 18 Oct 2012 at 12:02 pm

I have been doing research at Rutgers University for the past 20 years and have found that cranberries prevent bacteria from sticking to bladder cells, which is the initial step in the urinary tract infection process. I think we need to keep these latest findings in perspective with the totality of cranberry research that has been done over the last 100 years. This latest review analyzed results from some of the clinical trials, using criteria that apply to studies on drug treatments. Cranberry is a food that comes in different forms (juices, powders, dried, etc.) making it difficult to compare results from different trials because the same form and dosage of cranberry were not used in each study.

Interestingly, three new UTI clinical studies, published after this report was prepared, have shown significant benefits in children, with as much as a 65% reduction in UTIs and reduced use of antibiotics. Cranberries in many forms are enjoyed by millions of people globally on a daily basis. If women are currently consuming cranberry products, the results of this one review do not provide a reason for them to change their current practices. It is important that cranberry continue to be regarded and researched as a viable means to help address the public health challenge that UTIs and their treatment presents to antibiotic resistance. The effects of the studies are clinically important to the 15 million women in the US with UTIs each year. - Amy Howell, PhD

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