Study Shows that Cranberry Products May Have No Effect on UTIs

December 13, 2016
Study Shows Cranberry Products May Have No Effect on UTIs

For decades, cranberry juice has been considered an effective way to help prevent infections of the urinary tract. In turn, various companies market cranberry tablets, capsules and powders for this purpose. While many swear by these products, a recent study suggests they might not be doing anything at all.

No Noticeable Impact

To assess the effectiveness of cranberry-based supplements on urinary tract infections (UTIs), Yale researchers recruited 185 senior women living in nursing homes. Twice a day, each subject received oral cranberry capsules, containing 36 mg of proanthocyanidin, the cranberry ingredient believed to inhibit bacteria growth in the urinary tract. After evaluating each subject every two months for a full year, the researchers found no statistically significant difference between participants who received cranberry supplements and those who did not.

Does Cranberry Juice Prevent UTIs?

According to the researchers, cranberry capsules did not reduce bacteria in any of the subjects’ urine. The supplements also appeared to have no effect on other health outcomes, such as mortality or hospitalizations. Ultimately, while the products appeared to cause no harm in women who experience frequent UTIs, they also appeared to have no proven benefit, at least when it came to preventing infection.

Still, while the study wasn't able to show a definitive correlation between drinking cranberry juice and having less frequent UTIs, it doesn't necessarily mean one doesn't exist. Since everyone is different, it is possible that cranberry juice could help ward off UTIs in certain people. What's more, since it’s packed with key nutrients and beneficial antioxidants, there's certainly no harm in drinking cranberry juice.

At the same time, for older people with fixed incomes, it may not make much sense to spend money on pricey supplements that appear to offer little benefit when it comes to preventing urinary tract infections.

father and daughter hugging
The overall care I received was excellent! I also appreciate your affiliation with Yale New Haven Hospital.
Derby, CT
  • 5.0
  • 4.6