Cranberry extract may lower the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) by 50% in women who have a catheter in place while undergoing elective gynecological surgery, researchers from the University of Michigan have found. Findings from the study are published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

In the study, 160 study subjects aged 23–88 were assigned to take two cranberry extract capsules (TheraCran; Theralogix) twice daily for six weeks or placebo. The primary endpoint was proportion of subjects who experienced clinically diagnosed and treated UTI with or without positive urine culture.

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Results showed that UTI occurrence was significantly lower in the cranberry treatment group vs. placebo (19% vs. 38%, OR 0.38; 95% CI: 0.19–0.79; P=0.008). The reduction in rates of UTI were similar to that of antibiotic prophylaxis. Not all study subjects taking the cranberry extract capsules avoided UTIs but there was a later onset for those who were taking the cranberry extract vs. placebo (18 days vs. 8.5 days).

Lead author Betsy Foxman, Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Molecular and Clinical Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, noted that taking cranberry juice capsules instead of antibiotics will help avoid antibiotic resistance. She added antibiotics should be reserved for UTI treatment since cranberry juice capsules are comparable in preventing UTI post-elective gynecologic surgery.

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