Recently updated searchessuggests that cranberries may actually help some people ward off urinary tract infections. The research, a review of existing clinical trial data, found enough evidence to support the use of cranberry products to prevent UTIs in women with recurrent infections, children and people with a known higher risk of UTI. At the same time, he did not find strong evidence for its use with other groups, such as the elderly and pregnant women.
Cranberry, usually taken in juice or pill form, has long been a popular remedy for the prevention and treatment of UTIs. The fruit is rich in compounds called proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can inhibit the growth of bacteria often responsible for UTIs, especially Escherichia coli. But the evidence for its benefits has been mixed, with positive studies often funded by companies that sell cranberry products.
The Cochrane Library is a UK-based research organization that is highly respected for its comprehensive reviews of clinical trial data related to important public health topics. The organization has periodically reviewed whether cranberries can prevent UTIs, with their most recent analysis so far published in 2012. At the time, their verdict was lukewarm. Based on evidence collected from 24 studies, they found that cranberry juice may reduce the number of UTIs over a year in women with recurrent infections. But the most recent data they have analyzed also suggested that cranberry juice was “less effective than previously reported.”
Earlier this week, the Cochrane Library released its updated analysis on cranberries and the prevention of UTIs, which looked at significantly more data collected since 2012. In total, the researchers looked at 50 studies, involving nearly 9,000 participants, most including a placebo or untreated for comparison purposes. And the new findings are decidedly in favor of cranberries for preventing UTIs for many people.
“These data support the use of cranberry products to reduce the risk of culture-verified symptomatic UTIs in women with recurrent UTIs, in children, and in people susceptible to UTIs after procedures” , wrote the authors. People susceptible to UTIs may include people who have received radiation therapy for conditions such as bladder cancer.
The new review isn’t a complete vindication for cranberries, however. The authors did not find sufficiently clear evidence to support its use for UTI prevention in three specific groups: the elderly, pregnant women, and people with neuromuscular bladder dysfunction and/or incomplete bladder emptying. the bladder. There was also not enough data to determine whether cranberries are better or worse at preventing UTIs than antibiotics or probiotics.
Although they are certainly not binding, Cochrane reviews tend to be influential in the medical and scientific world. These discoveries could therefore change the minds of many people who are skeptical about the healing powers of cranberries. At the very least, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in trying it if you’re someone at higher risk for UTIs – the most commonly reported side effect in these trials was ‘tummy pain’ , according to the authors. Cranberry juice concentrates are often high in sugar, so drinking a lot of these products is not advised, but low sugar juice or pills can avoid this concern. On the other hand, the authors also say that more research is needed to determine the optimal dose for preventing UTIs and to confirm who will benefit the most.
It’s been a few good years for the reputation of the cranberry. In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration authorized companies sell certain cranberry products (including cranberry juice) to make a “qualified health claim” that the products may possibly prevent recurrent UTIs in healthy women.