Do Cranberries Prevent Urinary Tract Infections?

If you prefer a natural way to prevent urinary tract infections, then the cranberry may be the answer. A new study appearing in the Archives of Internal Medicine reports that cranberry products can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in certain people.

Up to 50 percent of women experience at least one urinary tract infection during their lifetime, but other populations also are at risk. They include elderly patients and individuals with neuropathic bladder. In addition, after age 50, from 20 to 50 percent of men who have an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH), prostatitis, or a general weakening of the urinary tract muscles experience a urinary tract infection.

The current meta-analysis, which was conducted by researchers from National Taiwan University Hospital and National Taiwan University College of Medicine, included 10 trials that included 1,494 participants. Overall, 794 participants were in a cranberry treatment group and 700 in control groups.

According to Chih-Hung Wang, MD, and colleagues, “Cranberry-containing products tend to be more effective in women with recurrent UTIs, female populations, children, cranberry juice drinkers, and people using cranberry-containing products more than twice daily.” They also noted that use of cranberry juice was more effective than cranberry capsules or tablets, which could be explained by people who used cranberry juice being better hydrated than those who took capsules or tablets. Unsweetened cranberry juice is recommended over sweetened varieties.

This study has some limitations, including the lack of separation of results by gender. However, the results “support that consumption of cranberry-containing products may protect against UTIs in certain populations.” Those certain populations may include males with urinary tract problems.

Reference

Wang C-H et al. Cranberry-containing products for prevention of urinary tract infections in susceptible populations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine 2012; 172(13): 988-96