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A thorough review of dozens of studies led scientists to conclude that healthcare professionals should be telling their patients to have cranberry products as a first step in reducing recurrent UTIs. The comprehensive meta-analysis and assessment of human clinical trials, published in the official journal of the American Urological Association, the Journal of Urology, assures practitioners and their patients that cranberry products are a low cost, low risk and effective way to help prevent recurrent UTIs.1
To answer the question, "Can Cranberries Contribute to Reduce the Incidence of Urinary Tract Infections?" a total of 28 studies showing results from nearly 5,000 patients were considered. Authors found a statistically significant risk reduction in repeat UTIs overall, but not significant for any particular subgroup. However, patients with recurrent UTIs who ingested cranberry products and had undergone gynecological surgery, experienced a significant reduction in UTIs.
"Our investigation supports that cranberry products can be a powerful tool to fight off frequent UTIs," explains lead author, Dr. Ângelo Luís. "While recommendations for dosage and duration of treatment require further study, the efficacy of the medicinal properties of cranberry products has been well-established."
The review explains that the medicinal properties of cranberries may be attributed to their unique polyphenol, proanthocyanidins (PACs). Their ability to keep infection-causing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls may be the major reason for their effectiveness in limiting infection growth and recurrence.
According to the authors, scientists and practitioners continue to explore the use of alternative therapies in the prevention of common infections as part of the global movement to reduce antibiotic use and resistance. It is estimated that one third of women in the United States will get a UTI by the age of 24.2
"Findings like this," adds Luis, "give practitioners a viable, inexpensive, non-antibiotic option to help patients reduce the recurrence of an uncomfortable and potentially debilitating infection."
"As one of the oldest alternative therapies and U.S.-born berries, independent research such as this not only provides public health benefits, it revitalizes the enthusiasm for cranberry products year-round. The industry appreciates the efforts of these researchers and takes pride in the healthy attributes that cranberry products provide to consumers around the world," comments Terry Humfeld, executive director of the non-profit research and education-focused organization, The Cranberry Institute.
This review was funded by Universidade da Beira Interior and bank Santander/Totta protocol post-doctoral research fellowship BIPD/ICI-FC-BST-UBI 2016 (ÂL).
1. Luis A, Domingues F and Pereira, L. Can cranberries contribute to reduce the incidence of urinary tract infections? A systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis of clinical trials. J Urol 2017; 614-21.
2. Foxman B, Barlow R, D'Arcy H, Gillespie B and Sobel JD. Urinary tract infection: self-reported incidence and associated costs. Ann Epidemiol 2000; 10:509-515.