Cranberry Juice Helps Treat UTI: Fact Or Fiction?

By Christie Abagon , Oct 27, 2016 03:01 PM EDT

Science has finally spoken out about this myth. Cranberry juice does not work magic on UTI. The juice contains proanthocyanidins (PACs) which stop bacteria from binding to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract, but new study shows there are not enough PACs in cranberry juice to have any effect on people with Urinary Tract Infection at all.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine led by Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta did a study on 185 random nursing home residents to orally take cranberry capsules every day. Half of the respondents took the equivalent of 20 oz of cranberry juice a day. The other half were given a placebo. The average age of the participants of the study is 86 years old.

After a period of 12 months, the authors of the study did not find any difference at all between the treatment group versus the control group. No significant differences have been found in symptomatic UTIs, antibiotics prescribed for suspected UTIs, death rates or hospitalizations between the two groups as well.

Juthani-Mehta said, "My findings point in the direction that cranberry products, when studied scientifically, are not able to show real benefit for UTI." She added, however, that some women may feel it helps lower the risk of getting an infection. "I don't see much down side, even if I don't think the scientific evidence is convincing," she added. The result of the study should help prevent people with fixed income to spend money on cranberry products which may not help them.

"This trial did not show a benefit of cranberry capsules in terms of lower presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria [presence of bacteria and white blood cells in the urine, a telltale sign of a UTI] among older women living in nursing homes," the study authors said.

A urology specialist from Lenox Hill Hospital, Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, agreed with the study results. "The best defense against UTIs is maintaining a healthy lifestyle of good eating habits, plenty of sleep, and exercise. Beyond that, if you get a urinary tract infection, antibiotics are the most effective way of treating it," Kavaler said.

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