Cranberry Juice Cures UTIs? Here’s the Truth
Ocean Spray, the leading producer of cranberry juice, says a “landmark study” has found the beverage can help prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI). What the company fails to mention is that it provided the funds for the research as well as the scientists to coauthor it. This is yet another example of how conflicts of interests make the results of scientific studies meaningless.
Independent Review Reveals the Truth
It is true that cranberries contain compounds that can help prevent infectious microbes from sticking to the cells of the urinary tract. What is not true is that drinking a glass of cranberry juice per day can prevent UTIs. The body of research dealing with the subject is inconclusive, with some small studies obtaining modest positive results and others showing no benefit. When small studies conflict, systematic reviews that analyze data from a broader range of research are considered more reliable. The Cochrane review, an investigation conducted by independent scientists, determined the average person couldn’t consume enough of the beneficial compound in one glass of juice per day to protect her from a UTI.
“To maintain levels of cranberry PAC [the bacteria-fighting compound in cranberries] that are necessary to prevent [UTIs], people would have to continuously drink the juice twice a day in serving of 150 mL for an indefinite period of time,” said the authors.
Ocean Spray Study’s Claims Are False
The conclusion of the Cochrane review contrasts markedly with that of the recent Ocean Spray study, which found one glass of cranberry juice reduced the incidence of UTIs by 40 percent in women. They obtained these seemingly impressive results by using a different definition of UTI. The gold standard of UTI comes from a measurement of higher than normal levels of bacteria in the urine. They ditched this criterion and based their findings on “symptomatic UTIs,” which refers to complaints of symptoms of a UTI without a positive urine culture.
When Vox asked Jonathan Craig, one of the authors of the Cochrane review, what he thought of this methodology, he said that using symptoms as a definition of a UTI is “rubbery at best.” He compared it to having “a UTI without the I.”
Not only is the Ocean Spray study based on a faulty definition of a UTI, but it is also deceptive in another way. The finding of a 40 percent reduction rate gives an illusion that drinking cranberry juice is strongly protective. Yet the researchers involved admit that a person would have to drink it every day for 3.2 years to prevent one “symptomatic UTI.” Clearly, the study has no validity and is an unethical manipulation of science.
D-Mannose May Be a Natural Cure for UTIs
The connection between cranberry juice and UTIs isn’t all bogus. D-mannose, one of the active ingredients in the juice responsible for the protective benefit, could be a natural cure for this malady. While drinking a glass of the juice won’t provide sufficient amounts of the compound to prevent or cure a UTI, taking D-mannose supplement might be very effective. Dr. Joseph Mercola reports that natural health physicians have been using the compound since the 1980s with success, and in recent years, several laboratory studies have shown it to be of value for UTIs. It is safe when taken in recommended amounts, but high dosages can result in kidney damage.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.