Myth: Cranberry as cure-all for UTIs

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Americans have long turned to cranberries as folk medicine for the treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are more common in women than men. Yet research on the effectiveness of cranberry juice or capsules on the prevention or treatment of these infections is conflicting.

Yale associate professor Dr. Manisha Juthani-Mehta, a geriatrics infectious disease expert, decided to test the remedy. Juthani and her study co-authors used cranberry capsules containing 72 mg of proanthocyanidin (PAC), a cranberry ingredient that is believed to inhibit bacteria in the urinary tract. In the study, 185 women living in nursing homes received either cranberry capsules or placebo for one year.

The researchers found that the cranberry capsules did not prevent bacteria in urine or have an effect on other health outcomes, such as hospitalizations and mortality.

The bottom line, says Juthani: While consuming cranberry products may have no harm on women with frequent UTIs, they don’t appear to have a proven benefit.

Read the full paper published in JAMA.

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