- New research finds that cranberry products like juice and pills may help prevent UTIs.
- Women’s risk of developing UTIs could drop by over 25% when taking cranberry products.
- Researchers looked at over 50 studies with more than 9,000 participating individuals.
It’s a myth no more. New evidence and findings from a global study suggest cranberry juice and supplement products can help prevent UTIs in women, children, and people susceptible to UTIs after medical procedures.
Study findings published this month in Cochrane Reviews demonstrate cranberry products offer significant risk reduction in UTIs including:
- Women’s risk of repeat UTIs was reduced by more than 25%
- Children’s risk was reduced by more than 50%
- Risk in people susceptible to UTI following medical interventions was reduced by about 53%
Medical scientists from Flinders University and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead came to these findings about the potential benefits of cranberry products for UTI prevention by looking at 50 recent trials that included almost 9,000 participants.
This recent review serves to update older research from 2012 that included evidence from 24 trials and showed no benefit from the products.
Senior study author, Jonathan Craig, PhD, vice president and executive dean of the College of Medicine & Public Health at Flinders University, explains in a press release that the real benefits of cranberry products became clear when the researchers expanded the scope of the review to include the most recently available clinical data.
In other words, as new evidence emerges, new findings might occur. “ In this case, the new evidence shows a very positive finding that cranberry juice can prevent UTI in susceptible people,” said Craig.
“We have shown the efficacy of cranberry products for the treatment of UTIs using all the evidence published on this topic since the mid-nineties. The earlier versions of this review didn’t have enough evidence to determine efficacy and subsequent clinical trials showed varied results, but in this updated review the volume of data has shown this new finding,” he adds.
The study authors conclude that while cranberry products do help prevent UTIs in women with frequent recurrence, more studies are needed to further clarify who with UTI would benefit most from cranberry products.
It’s also important to note that this new data doesn’t show any benefit for elderly people, pregnant women or in people with bladder emptying problems.
How acid from cranberries can help prevent UTIs
Dr. Maria Sophocles, OB/GYN, medical director of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, New Jersey, tells Healthline this research provides confirmation of what many people already believed to be true – that acidifying the urine with cranberry products does prevent UTIs and repeat UTIs from developing. For decades, the idea of using cranberries as a supplement has been talked about or utilized.
“The fact that this study draws conclusions from an analysis of 50 studies representing 9000 patients means the benefits of cranberry are probably real.”
For future studies, Dr. Sophocles says it will be important to focus on how cranberry supplements affect different populations like those who are more or less susceptible to recurring UTIs.
“This study describes people ‘susceptible to UTIs,’ but it would be important to identify the difference between older and younger populations, she adds. “It also references the effect of supplement use ‘following medical interventions;’ further studies should clarify what that means specifically, i.e. surgery,” says Dr. Sophocles.
Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, a urologist at Orlando Health tells Healthline his reaction to this new research on UTIs and cranberry products is one of interest and optimism. “It’s encouraging to see scientific evidence supporting the potential benefits of cranberry products for UTI prevention,” he says.
“However, it’s important to keep in mind that more research may be needed to establish the exact mechanisms and the most effective dosages or forms of cranberry products for optimal results,” he adds.
Other ways to prevent UTIs
According to Dr. Sophocles, you can reduce risk of UTIs by acidifying your urine if you are prone to UTIs by using cranberry supplements or 1000 mg of vitamin c per day – or both. However, there are several other methods of preventing UTIs at home.
She recommends the following tips for preventing UTIs:
- Stay hydrated by drinking at least 32 oz of water per day.
- Use the proper wiping technique which is wiping from front to back
- Consider D-mannose supplementation
- Talk to your healthcare provider about a prescription medication such as methenamine hippurate (which has been shown to prevent binding of bacteria to the bladder)
She adds that postmenopausal people can talk to their healthcare providers about vaginal microbiome health and vaginal estrogen or the use of other medications called ospemifene or vaginal prasterone, the use of vaginal laser or radio frequency (RF) energy treatments. She says these treatments can restore protective bacteria that will guard the opening to the bladder and protect against UTIs.
Dr. Brahmbhatt adds the recommendations of urinating frequently and not holding in urine for extended periods and urinating before and after sexual activity. He also suggests avoiding irritants such as harsh soaps, bubble baths, and douches and suggests wearing breathable, moisture-wicking underwear to reduce the likelihood of bacterial growth.
Cranberry products are not a replacement for antibiotics
Dr. Brahmbhatt also says it’s important to note that while cranberry products may be effective in preventing UTIs, they should not be considered a substitute for medical treatment if a UTI is already present.
“In such cases, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for appropriate antibiotics and follow their recommendations,” he says. “Additionally, individuals with a history of kidney stones or other medical conditions should consult their healthcare providers before incorporating cranberry products into their daily routine, as they may have contraindications or interactions with certain medications.”
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