Cranberry Juice Won't Prevent UTIs

Uh oh, new studies say that cranberries only work for women with recurring UTIs

This is bound to cause a major upset for women: new studies show that cranberry juice and cranberries may not be effective in preventing UTIs. In fact, cranberry juice may only work for women who have recurring urinary tract infections, and it may have few health benefits. 

The review, which looked at several studies claiming the preventative benefits of cranberry juice, said that most of the studies had large drop-outs, and that the proof of benefits was very small. CBS notes that some studies did show that cranberry juice did prevent UTIs for women who had recurring problems, but that they needed to drink two glasses of cranberry juice — daily — to see any kind of lasting effect. Said the lead researcher Ruth Jepson, to WebMD UK, "You do wonder in real life how many women would be prepared to drink that amount." (Doesn't sound that appealing.) 

Jepsen did note that more studies on cranberry supplements should be done to see their effect on UTIs, so at least there's that ray of hope. But, she said, the studies should be "only for women with recurrent UTIs, and only if these products contain the recommended amount of active ingredient." In the meantime, we'll enjoy our cranberries in other recipes. 

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AmyHowellPhD's picture

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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