“if your wee wee’s going “eee eee” have some cranberry!
Does cranberry juice actually help prevent or treat UTIs, or is that just an old wive’s tale?
Welcome back to What the Science: Home Remedy Edition. Let me know in the comments which remedy to tackle next! And now.
UTI’s are about 50 times more common in adult women than men, possibly due to having a shorter urethra that’s closer to the anus. And while they’re pretty easy to treat with antibiotics, for some people it turns into a game of whackamole, where it just keeps coming back. And the problem with antibiotics is that overuse can lead to pretty scary antibiotic resistance.
Soo I set out to research if grandma’s cobbler could actually help.
First up: the mechanism. Is there a plausible explanation for cranberries helping vs bacterial infections?
The answer is YES!
But wait, there’s more!
Speaking of antibiotic resistance, researchers from Montreal found that cranberry extract actually makes bacteria MORE sensitive to antibiotics, both by making the bacterial cell wall more permeable, and interfering with the bacteria’s ability to eliminate the antibiotic once it’s inside. The lead author, McGill chemical engineering professor Nathalie Tufenkji, stated “when we simultaneously treated the bacteria with an antibiotic and the cranberry extract, no resistance developed”
Aaand I bet you savvy viewers are already thinking “all this lab stuff is great, but what about ACTUAL OUTCOME DATA in HUMANS?”
I gotchu, my fellow science seekers!
Last time i researched this, i was a bit disappointed. A 2012 meta analysis of 24 studies concluded “that, compared with placebo, water or not treatment, cranberry products did not significantly reduce the occurrence of symptomatic UTI overall”
But a lot of these studies were just not very well done, giving us wiide confidence intervals, and, say it with me, “absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence!” And last week, that 2012 review was updated to include twenty six more studies! 50 in total, with almost 9,000 participants. And the results were pretty exciting.
Overall, taking cranberry products–either in juice or pill form– reduced the risk of UTIs by 30%. Now let’s break it down by group.
In women with recurring UTIs, it reduced risk by 26%, in children by 54%, and in those with increased UTI susceptibility due to a medical intervention it lowered risk by 53%. BUT it didn’t seem to help elderly institutionalized folks, pregnant women, or those with bladder emptying problems. And in the few studies that compared the two, cranberry worked way better than probiotics!
Final Verdict: if UTI’s are an issue for you, you CAN CAN the CRAN CRAN from GRAN GRAN.
Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections - April 17, 2023
"If cranberries were a dating app, they'd be the one that stops clingy bacteria from swiping right on your bladder." "What do UTIs and your least favorite relative have in common? You don't want them to stick around, but cranberry juice can only help with one of them."