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Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infection?

Specialist says grocery-store varieties aren't strong enough for the job

THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Contrary to popular belief, cranberry juice does not cure a urinary tract infection, a doctor says.

Many people drink cranberry juice in an attempt to ease their symptoms, but it will do nothing to help them, said Dr. Timothy Boone, vice dean of the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Houston campus.

"Cranberry juice, especially the juice concentrates you find at the grocery store, will not treat a UTI [urinary tract infection] or bladder infection," he said in a center news release.

"It can offer more hydration and possibly wash bacteria from your body more effectively, but the active ingredient in cranberry is long gone by the time it reaches your bladder," Boone said.

Each year, more than 3 million Americans have a urinary tract infection -- an infection in any part of the urinary system, kidney, bladder or urethra, according to the news release.

The active ingredient in cranberries -- A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) -- is effective against UTI-causing bacteria, but is found only in cranberry capsules, not in cranberry juice, Boone said.

"It takes an extremely large concentration of cranberry to prevent bacterial adhesion," Boone said. "This amount of concentration is not found in the juices we drink. There's a possibility it was stronger back in our grandparents' day, but definitely not in modern times."

However, one study found that taking cranberry capsules reduced the risk of urinary tract infections by 50 percent in women who had a catheter in place while having gynecological surgery, he noted.

"In this study, they took the cranberry itself and put it in a capsule -- the equivalence of drinking 16 ounces of cranberry juice. As you can see, it takes a large amount of pure cranberry to prevent an infection," Boone said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about urinary tract infections.


SOURCE: Texas A&M Health Science Center, news release, Feb. 9, 2016

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