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Cranberries Little Help Against UTIs

Cranberry and UTI Controversy continued...

The results showed a 14% lower risk of UTI in people taking a cranberry product compared with a placebo or no treatment in people at risk for recurrent urinary tract infections. But researchers say this effect was not significant and could have been due to chance.

Many people in the studies dropped out and stopped drinking the juice, which suggests that it may not work as a long-term preventive therapy.

“It’s unlikely to be effective because it’s very difficult for people to drink cranberry juice twice a day,” Jepson says. “It’s quite a commitment.”

The study also showed cranberry pills or capsules were similarly ineffective at preventing UTIs.

Jury Still Out on Cranberry Pills

Although this latest review showed cranberries were not effective in preventing urinary tract infections, experts say the debate is far from over.

“This debate will continue as it already has for many years,” says Suzanne Geerlings, MD, PhD, of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Geerlings conducted a 2011 study, included in the review, that showed cranberry pills reduced the number of UTIs per year among women with recurrent UTIs compared with a placebo. But the cranberry pills did not work as well as low-dose antibiotics in preventing UTIs.

Geerlings says if someone is taking cranberry products and they are working for them to prevent UTI, they should keep doing it.

“One major advantage of cranberry pills is that they don’t lead to resistance of bacteria,” Geerlings tells WebMD.

Meanwhile, more studies are needed to look at the correct cranberry dosage needed to produce the best results.

“We don’t know the exact dose, that is one of the problems,” says Geerlings.

Jepson says many of the studies in the review did not say how much of the active ingredient was in the tablets studied.

Researchers say it may be a matter of finding the right dosage and method of extracting the active ingredients in cranberries to best prevent urinary tract infections.

Future studies should test the cranberry products for effectiveness and the correct dosage first, Howell says.

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