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Could Cranberry Juice Cut UTI Antibiotic Use?

Medically Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on June 20, 2016
From the WebMD Archives

June 20, 2016 -- Drinking cranberry juice could help lessen the number of women needing antibiotics for urinary tract infections, a new study says.

Women with a recent history of UTIs who drank an 8-ounce glass of the juice each day were less likely to have their symptoms return than those who didn't drink it, the researchers found.

UTIs are among the most common bacterial infections in women worldwide, and they may affect up to 60% of ladies at some time in their lives. The condition happens when bacteria infect the urinary tract. The most common symptoms are pain or a burning feeling when you pee, and an urgent need to pee in often-small amounts.

The standard treatment is a course of antibiotics, but overuse of antibiotics means UTIs are becoming more and more resistant to the drugs that treat them.

The researchers behind the new study suggest that cranberries could be a nutritional approach to reducing UTIs and could, as a result, be a way to help lessen worldwide use of antibiotics.

The study involved 373 women with an average age of 40.9 years who were told to either drink a glass of cranberry juice each day or a placebo over 24 weeks. The researchers say the rate of UTIs dropped among those in the cranberry juice group, with just 39 diagnoses compared with 67 for those in the placebo group.

Cranberries have a unique combination of compounds that prevent bacteria from sticking and causing infections.

The study was supported by Ocean Spray Cranberries.

Tips to Avoid UTIs

The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation recommends cranberry juice as a possible way to prevent the infections. It also suggests a number of other things you can do:

  • Drink more water.
  • Avoid alcohol, pure fruit juices, tea or coffee, since they can irritate the bladder.
  • Wear clothes made of natural materials such as cotton or linen -- and don't wear thongs.
  • Always wipe from front to back after using the toilet.
  • Wash the anal area after you poop.
  • Empty your bladder as soon as you feel the need.
  • Eat more vegetables and less junk food.
  • For postmenopausal women, estrogen replacement treatment may be useful.
  • Wash the genital area before sex, and pee within 15 minutes afterward to help flush away any bacteria.
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Sources

SOURCES:

Maki, K. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016.

The Cystitis and Overactive Bladder Foundation.

Press release, Weber Shandwick Worldwide.

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