Myth: Cranberry as cure-all for UTIs
Story from Yale News:
Americans have long turned to cranberries as folk medicine for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are more common in women than men. Yet research on the effectiveness of cranberry juice or capsules on the prevention or treatment of these infections is conflicting.
Yale associate professor Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, a geriatrics infectious disease expert, decided to test the remedy. Juthani and her study co-authors used cranberry capsules containing 72 mg of proanthocyanidin (PAC), a cranberry ingredient that is believed to inhibit bacteria in the urinary tract. In the study, 185 women living in nursing homes received either cranberry capsules or placebo for one year.
The researchers found that the cranberry capsules did not prevent bacteria in urine or have an effect on other health outcomes, such as hospitalizations and mortality.
The bottom line, says Juthani: While consuming cranberry products may have no harm on women with frequent UTIs, they don’t appear to have a proven benefit.
Story from NY Times
Misconception: Drinking buckets of cranberry juice can cure, and even prevent bladder, infections.
Actually: You may enjoy the taste (see: vodka) but it won’t cure and, probably, won’t prevent recurrence.
This purported remedy is centuries old and there is a considerable amount of research investigating it. While some studies suggest that cranberry may reduce repeated infections in younger women, it is certainly not a treatment for an active case. The gold standard for treatment is antibiotics. Sometimes doctors just recommend rest and ibuprofen.
“I was hoping it would work,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Medicine, and the lead author of a study published Thursday in the journal JAMA, which showed no reduction in urinary tract infections for female nursing home patients who took standardized, high-dose cranberry capsules — the equivalent of 20 ounces of juice daily — for a year.
“I’m not sure it’s worth spending money on, particularly for patients on a fixed income, ” she said.
In a strongly worded editorial also in JAMA, Dr. Lindsay E. Nicolle, an expert on urinary tract infections, or UTIs, at the University of Manitoba, concluded that the evidence is “convincing that cranberry products should not be recommended as a medical intervention for the prevention of UTI.” She added that “clinicians should not be promoting cranberry use by suggesting that there is proven, or even possible, benefit.”