Drinking cranberry juice is widely considered an easy preventative measure for urinary tract infections (UTIs), and a new placebo-controlled study adds to the body of evidence that it may work for that purpose. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and measured the effects of a cranberry drink on UTI occurrences in 373 women with a history of recent UTIs. For the 24-week study, the women were divided into two groups: One group was assigned to consume one 8-ounce cranberry beverage daily; the other group was assigned to drink an 8-ounce placebo beverage daily. The participants agreed to avoid eating any other Vaccinium products (such as blueberries, blueberry powders, cranberry juice, and cranberries) and any probiotic-containing foods and supplements during the two weeks before the study and throughout the 24-week trial. Participants recorded their consumption of their assigned beverage in a daily diary, and researchers collected urine samples throughout the study to screen for UTIs. At the end of the study, here’s what the researchers found:
Out of the 185 women in the cranberry group, only 49 (26%) were diagnosed with UTIs, compared to 67 (35%) UTI cases out of the 188 women in the placebo group.
This research indicating that cranberry juice can lower the incidence of clinical UTIs is important, considering that UTIs are the second most common type of infection in the body, and that they're usually treated with antibiotics. With the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, any evidence for the effectiveness of alternative treatments for bacterial infections is good news. However, it’s important to note that two of the researchers who conducted this study are employed by a cranberry juice company—the same company that provided the juice for this study. Therefore, more research is needed from unaffiliated parties to confirm the relationship between cranberry juice and reduced UTIs. In the meantime, there’s certainly no harm in adding cranberries to your diet—they’re full of polyphenols, including flavanols, anthocyanins, and phenolic acids, that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Eating polyphenol-rich foods regularly may also help protect us against heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition