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Doctors are studying the protective effects of cranberries against urinary tract infections
Cranberry products are often recommended as a natural way to prevent troublesome urinary tract infections. But do cranberries really have such a protective effect? Researchers have now found that - contrary to all previous assumptions - the consumption of cranberries offers no special protection against urinary tract infection.
The scientists at the internationally recognized Yale University School of Medicine found in their investigation that the long-acclaimed protective effect of cranberries is not really available for urinary tract infections. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of the American Medical Association".
Cranberry capsules do not lead to fewer episodes of urinary tract infection
For their study, the experts examined the female residents of some nursing homes. They were able to observe that cranberry capsules do not lead to fewer episodes of urinary tract infection. Other studies have already shown that the consumption of cranberries has no particular benefit in such diseases, explains author Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta.
Are cranberry capsules useful for infections?
If women like to eat cranberry products or drink cranberry juice, they should continue to do so, the doctor says. However, if these women take cranberry capsules only to prevent urinary tract infections, they should be aware of the limited benefits. The use of the capsules does not seem to make any sense, the authors explain in the study.
Symptoms for a urinary tract infection:
Urinary tract infections afflict women of all ages. But older men are also at increasing risk of developing such an infection, the researchers explain. The disease occurs when bacteria infect the urinary tract. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection are the feeling of constant need to urinate, pain and burning sensation when urinating. Low fever and cloudy or bloody urine can also occur. In the worst case, an infection can cause various other inconveniences and even spread to the kidneys, warn the doctors.
Many urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics
Research has shown that up to half of all women examined had bacteria in their urine, even if they did not experience any symptoms of an infection. To treat the infections, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. However, the causative germs of the infection develop an increased resistance to these drugs. This makes the infection increasingly difficult to treat. For this reason, natural protection has long been advised. Numerous experts believed that cranberry juice can greatly reduce antibiotic use.
Do cranberries affect the pH balance of the urinary tract and bladder?
A common suggestion for treatment has therefore been to consume high amounts of cranberry juice. It has long been thought that the juice of the berry can change the pH balance of the urinary tract and bladder, the scientists explain. The origins of this home remedy are unclear. A study from 1923 showed that cranberries and plums influence the acidity of urine. Another study in 1994 claimed that cranberry juice has a protective effect in older women, explains Dr. Juthani-Mehta.
The results of older studies are sometimes contradictory
Since then there have been several contradictory studies. Some claimed that cranberry juice or cranberry capsules can prevent infections. Other studies have done the opposite. A review of 24 studies in 2012 showed that there is little evidence of effectiveness, and cranberry juice is therefore not recommended for the prevention of urinary tract infections, the researchers say.
Doctors are studying the effectiveness of cranberry capsules
Cranberry juice is sometimes difficult to drink for older women. This is due, for example, to the taste and sugar levels. For this reason, doctors wanted to test the effectiveness of cranberry capsules, explains Dr. Juthani Mehta. To this end, the scientists examined 185 women from various nursing homes. However, only 147 women completed the study. Over a third (31 percent) of the women tested positive for bacteriuria and pyuria before the start of the study, the experts explain.
Cranberry capsules do not lead to any advantages in urinary tract infections
Doctors divided the participating women into two groups. One group received two cranberry capsules a day, the other group took placebos. The research team found no differences in the occurrence of bacteriuria and pyuria between the two groups. There were also no differences in urinary tract infections or death rates. There have certainly been some women who have had problems getting used to the routine of taking cranberry capsules, the authors explain. For this reason, the participants missed some income. Nevertheless, Dr. Juthani-Mehta believes that cranberries are ineffective in preventing urinary tract infections. (as)