Cranberry capsules may reduce the risk of clinically defined urinary tract infection (UTI) in older patients, according to a recent study.
A UTI is an infection of the urinary system. UTIs may affect any part of the urinary tract including the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. However, most infections involve the lower tract, which includes the urethra and the bladder. In previous research, there is some human evidence supporting the use of cranberry juice and cranberry supplements to prevent UTI, although most available studies are of lesser quality. Clear dosing guidelines are lacking, but given the safety of cranberry, it may be reasonable to recommend the use of moderate amounts of cranberry juice cocktail to prevent UTI in non-chronically ill individuals.
In a new study, researchers conducted a clinical trial to evaluate the effects of cranberry capsule supplementation on UTI risk in residents of long-term care facilities. Nine-hundred and twenty-eight long-term care facility residents with an average age of 84 years-old were included. The participants were randomly assigned to receive a cranberry or placebo capsule twice daily for 12 months. The incidence of UTI, defined either clinically or strictly, was used as the main outcome measure.
The clinical definition of UTI requires the presence of at least one of a group of characteristics, including urination-related signs and symptoms, a positive bacterial test, antibiotic treatment for UTI, or UTI reported in a medical record. The strict scientific UTI definition requires both the presence of symptoms as well as a positive bacterial test.
Of the study participants, 412 of the residents were at low risk for UTI, while 516 were at high risk. The researchers found that the high risk participants receiving cranberry supplements had a significantly lower risk of developing a clinically defined UTI than those receiving placebo. The incidence of clinically defined UTI was 26% lower for high risk participants taking cranberry when compared to placebo. These effects were lacking when applying the strict UTI definition, and for those at low risk of UTI.
The authors concluded that well-tolerated cranberry capsules may reduce the incidence of clinically defined UTI in high-risk elderly patients. Further research is warranted.
For more information about cranberry, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.
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