Forget what your grandma told you about cranberry juice

By: Arien Fuentes

Most of us grow up with the idea that cranberry juice is the best thing for our bladders. Many patients that have bladder infections will consume cranberry juice to solve their problem. Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests it could just be an old wives’ tale.

More than 3 million Americans experience UTI every year. Symptoms of UTI include frequent urination, pelvic pain, and traces of blood when urinating. For a UTI to occur, bacteria must adhere to and invade the lining of the bladder. Cranberries contain A-type Proanthocyanidins that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to attach itself to the bladder wall, which can reduce the probability of getting an infection.

Dr. Timothy Boone, PhD, vice dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine in Houston, and his colleagues studied on 160 patients aged from 23-88 years old who were undergoing gynecological surgery between 2011-2013. 10-64% of the women undergoing this procedure would develop UTI after the removal of the catheter (medical devices that can be inserted in the body to treat diseases or perform a surgical procedure). Half of the 160 patients received two cranberry juice capsules twice a day for 6 weeks after the surgery. The other patients took a placebo.

The two cranberry capsules which were equal to drinking two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice a day lowered the risk of UTI by 50%. Only 19% of those in the cranberry treatment developed UTI compared to 38% of the placebo group.

Even though the capsules can make a difference, researchers pointed out that a patient would need a lot of pure cranberry juice to prevent infection. Dr. Boone explains, “It takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion. This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink. There’s a possibility it was stronger back in our grandparents’ day, but definitely not in modern times.”


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