Cranberry Juice Won't Stop New Bladder Infections

Cranberry juice is often said to be a useful preventative and treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). However, a study published this week in The Cochrane Library reaffirms the idea that while cranberry juice may be useful if you suffer from recurring UTIs, it won't do anything much to prevent you getting one in the first place.

Picture by Jason Ilagan

The study examined 24 previous research studies on the effectiveness of cranberry juice and drew this conclusion:

Although in some studies there were small benefits for women suffering from recurring infections, women would have to consume two glasses of cranberry juice per day for long periods to prevent one infection.

This chimes in with a meta-study we reported on earlier this year, which noted that cranberry juice was much more effective on people with recurring UTIs.

Cranberry juice is a useful and relatively low-sugar source of vitamin C and there are certainly much worse things you could drink. That said, as ever, eating fruit is better for you than drinking the juice.


Comments

    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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