Cranberries don't prevent UTIs, study finds

Female nursing home residents taking cranberry capsules for one year demonstrated no significant reduction in urinary tract infections compared to those taking a placebo, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, researchers from New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Medicine randomly assigned 185 elderly women living in a nursing home to two different groups. One group took two cranberry capsules and the other took a placebo once a day for a year. At the start of the study, 31 percent of the women showed presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria — or evidence of bacteria and white blood cells in the urine, which is a sign of a UTI.

Of the 185 participants, 147 completed the study, representing an 80 percent adherence rate. Researchers found no significant difference in the presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria between the group taking cranberry capsules (29.1 percent) and the control group (29.0 percent), according to the report.

They also noted other major differences in the treatment group compared to the control group, including the number of symptomatic UTIs (10 cases vs. 12 cases), rates of deaths (17 deaths vs. 16 deaths), hospitalizations, antibiotics administered for suspected UTIs and total antimicrobial utilization, according to the report.

"Many studies of cranberry products have been conducted over several decades with conflicting evidence of its utility for UTI prevention. The results have led to the recommendation that cranberry products do not prevent UTI overall but may be effective in older women," the study's authors wrote. "This trial did not show a benefit of cranberry capsules in terms of a lower presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria among older women living in nursing homes."

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