Cranberry-containing products have long been used as a folk remedy to prevent UTIs.
Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most commonly acquired bacterial infections affecting up to 40% to 50% of women at least once in their lifetimes. Pregnant women, the elderly, and patients with neuropathic bladder are also at increased risk for developing UTIs.
Cranberry was originally thought to work by acidifying the urine, but its effects are now known to be due to its interference with the attachment of bacteria to uroepithelial cells. In fact, A-type proanthocyanidins were identified in cranberry in 1989 as compounds with the potential to inhibit the adherence of P-fimbriated Escherichia coli to the urogenital mucosa.
Dr. Chih-Hung Wang and colleagues from the National Taiwan University College of analyzed 10 trials with a total of 1494 participants (794 in the cranberry groups and 700 in the control groups). Their findings indicate that cranberry-containing products are associated with protective effect against UTIs.
Cranberry juice was more effective than cranberry capsules. The authors write that this could be due to increased hydration from drinking the juice or the effects of unknown substances in the juice. The authors acknowledge that drinking large quantities of juice could be problematic for some individuals, including patients with diabetes and those with gastrointestinal issues.
A dosing frequency of more than twice daily was more effective. "Because in vitro data have suggested that the antiadhesion activity of cranberry juice on fimbriated E coli lasts for approximately 8 hours after ingestion, dosing more frequently than twice daily may be a reasonable choice," write the authors.
Because there was substantial heterogeneity among the studies, the results of the analysis should be viewed with caution, the researchers say.
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