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Cranberries and Their Juices May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections In Women

by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

Image from FineGardening

Researchers found 13 studies, involving 1600 people, that test whether cranberries help prevent urinary tract infections (Archives of Internal Medicine, August 2012). Those who took cranberry juice or supplements were 38 percent less likely to suffer urinary tract infections. Those who were more likely to benefit from cranberry products were:
  • women and children, rather than men;
  • women with recurrent urinary tract infections;
  • regular cranberry juice drinkers; and
  • those who use cranberry-containing products more than twice daily.

The symptoms of urinary tract infections include:
  • a feeling that you have to urinate all the time,
  • burning on urination,
  • frequent night-time urination,
  • pelvic discomfort,
  • urinary odor,
  • urgency when the bladder is full, and sometimes
  • fever.

Most urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urethra from the outside and climbing up the inner lining of the urethra to the bladder, and for some, up to the kidneys. Cranberry juice does not contain any known chemicals that specifically kill bacteria. They contain chemicals that help to prevent bacteria from sticking to the cells of the urethra as they climb up toward the bladder. Cranberries may help to prevent recurrent urinary tract infections, but they should not be used as the primary treatment.

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