Cranberry products confirmed to prevent urinary tract infections for women

May 31, 2023 | Biology

Considered a myth, drinking cranberry juice has been a prevention strategy for women with urinary tract infection (UTI) as early as the 1970s. However, new medical evidence suggested otherwise and implicated its effectiveness in treating UTI.

Cranberry healthcare supplements, such as capsules and tablets, have since long been promoted as an easy solution to ward off infections. However, the most recent review done in 2012 with evidence from over 24 trials showed no benefits from the use of these products. 

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Medical scientists from Flinders University and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead updated the aforementioned review by conducting a global study stating the benefits of cranberry products in reducing risks of repeat symptomatic UTIs in women. They started to look at 50 more recent trials, comprising 9,000 participants.

Involving a range of methods, the cranberry products are compared with a placebo or no treatment for UTI and the determined intake of cranberries (in the form of capsule or juice). Results showed that the intake of cranberry products and supplements reduced the risk of repeat symptomatic UTIs in the following populations: women by more than a quarter; more than a half in children; and about 53% in people who were susceptible to UTI following medical interventions such as bladder radiotherapy. 

Moreover, only a few people reported the presence of side effects, the most common being stomach pains. On the other hand, the researchers weren’t able to determine the effectiveness of cranberry products against antibiotics and probiotics in preventing further UTIs. The data wasn’t able to show benefits for these populations: elderly people, pregnant women, and people with bladder emptying problems.

Real benefits from cranberry products have been ascertained after expanding the scope of the review which included the latest available clinical data. However, researchers push for further studies to clarify which demographic infected with UTI would benefit the most from these products. 

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