Does cranberry juice actually help prevent UTIs?
Drinking cranberry juice to prevent or treat a urinary tract infection is a tale as old as time. But does it actually work?
The short answer is not exactly.
UTIs are often marked by a burning sensation when urinating, a frequent urge to urinate and sometimes even pelvic pain in women. And cranberry juice is believed to prevent these symptoms by making the urine more acidic. Pee that’s high in acidity discourages bacteria from causing an infection or preventing an infection from worsening. While there is inconsistent data on cranberry juice successfully preventing UTIs, some studies have shown a slight reduction in UTIs when taking cranberry tablets.
“Cranberry supplementation in tablet form has shown efficacy in reducing recurrent UTIs (rUTI),” says Dr. Jeffrey Tomasini, a urologic surgeon at Aurora Health Care. “Proanthocyanidin (PAC) is the active molecule that prevents adherence of E. coli to the bladder lining, and this is found in higher concentrations in the supplements. Obtaining adequate daily dosing of PAC by drinking cranberry juice is difficult.”
The causes of UTIs aren’t always known, but there are additional ways to prevent the frequency of UTIs you experience:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Dr. Tomasini recommends eating colorful fruits and vegetables to promote a healthy immune system.
- Hydrate daily: He recommends drinking at least 100 ounces of water each day to significantly lower your chances of a UTI.
- Avoid scented products: Soaps, tampons and toilet paper can sometimes come scented which can irritate the urethra.
- Wipe front to back: Not doing so can spread bacteria from your anus to your urethra.
If you’re having symptoms of a UTI or frequently have UTIs, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss treatment options. Your doctor can help talk you through what might work – and might not – in your specific case.
About the Author
Anna Kohler, health enews contributor, is a public affairs specialist for Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her Bachelor of Science in public relations from Illinois State University and has worked in healthcare public relations for over three years. In her free time, she enjoys working out, exploring new places with her friends and family and keeping up with the latest trends.