Cranberries can help treat urinary tract infections, but not cranberry juice

Urinary tract infections (UTI’s) are a problem experienced by millions of people, a majority being women. Drinking cranberry juice has been one popular advice to prevent or even treat a urinary tract infection. However, a new study suggests it could just be an old wives’ tale. This is important especially for general physicians to know, as they regularly see many cases of urinary tract infections.

A UTI can affect any part of the urinary system, from the kidneys, to the bladder or urethra. Symptoms include frequent, painful urination, pelvic pain and traces of blood in the urine. The infection does not normally last long, and most patients may not see a doctor for this problem. Because of this popular advice, many patients turn to cranberry juice when they suffer from the symptoms. However, a new research suggests that while cranberry capsules can help, cranberry juice has no effect.

For a UTI to occur, bacteria must adhere to and invade the lining of the bladder or urethra. Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins, which interfere with the bacteria’s ability to adhere and invade the bladder wall, reducing the likelihood of infection.

Researchers found that cranberry capsules lowered the risk of UTIs by 50%. A cranberry capsule provides the equivalent of 8 ounces of cranberry juice. Therefore, it takes an extremely large concentration of cranberries to prevent bacterial adhesion, a concentration that can’t be found in the juices we drink. So, drop your bottle of cranberry juice; it won’t do the trick!

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