Cranberry juice: How the popular drink may not treat your UTI

Many women have experienced the discomfort of a urinary tract infection (UTI), with frequent trips to the bathroom, pain when urinating, and soreness in the lower abdomen, among the most common symptoms.

The infection is usually caused by bacteria and can occur anywhere in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra.

UTIs are most common in women, almost 60 percent of females will experience one in their lifetime, compared to the 10 percent of men.

The reason for this is because women's urethras are more susceptible to bacteria entering the urinary tract.

Most people turn to at-home remedies to tackle the discomfort of a UTI or to avoid a repeat infection – but do these popular treatments actually work?

It is a commonly held belief that drinking cranberry juice can prevent and cure UTIs, but recent health experts believe the sweet drink isn’t nearly as effective as people may think.

Cranberry juice is often recommended as it contains A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) that can prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall.

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Research exploring the benefits of cranberry juice are mixed, one review of seven high quality studies found that cranberry juice and cranberry supplements reduced the risk of UTIs by 26 percent.

Another review highlighted that cranberry products seem to prevent UTIs in women, but they aren’t beneficial among people who are at an increased risk of contracting the infection.

Meanwhile, evidence supporting the use of cranberry juice to treat active UTIs is weak – one review that included three high quality studies revealed there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest the fruity drink helps treat active infections.

Dr. Pamela J. Levin, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynaecology, said: “The data on cranberry juice and cranberry supplements with regard to urinary tract infections is inconsistent.

“Though studies have demonstrated potential ability to decrease symptomatic UTIs, there isn't sufficient data to determine the duration of therapy or the dose of cranberry necessary to achieve effect.”

It is important to note that most research focuses on using cranberry products to prevent UTIs.

There is not enough evidence to suggest that cranberry juice is an effective treatment for reducing UTI symptoms or speeding the recovery of active infections.

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