Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are very common in women due to the short length of their urethra. Two out of three women experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime. Moreover, many women experience recurrent infections, almost within six months of the initial infection. Additionally, the statistics for antibiotic use for UTIs are pretty high.
Previously, healthcare providers and urologists used cranberry extract and juice as a supplement for managing and preventing UTIs. The use of cranberry extract was recommended due to the high amount of phenolic compounds contained in cranberries. Plant phenols, such as flavonoids and tannins are high in antioxidants and also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Moreover, cranberries are rich in proanthocyanidins, which interfere with the adherence of bacteria that’s a common culprit of urinary tract infections in the women: E.coli.
Apart from the prevention of urinary tract infection, berries lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome. This means that high blood pressure and the complications of diabetes can be prevented by incorporating berries in the diet. Moreover, insulin sensitivity can be increased in individuals who are taking daily doses of these berries.
A considerable amount of research has been done regarding the efficacy of cranberry. According to the specialist of infectious disease at Yale School of Medicine, cranberry may reduce repeated infections in younger women, but it is not recommended for active infection. In another editorial in JAMA, Dr. Lindsay E. Nicolle, an expert on UTIs at the University of Manitoba, concluded that evidence shows that cranberry products should not be recommended as a medical interventional for the prevention of UTIs.
Further studies and meta-analyses have shown that there was no significant statistical improvement in the outcomes and management of UTIs with the addition of cranberry juice. In fact, the dropout rate of patients taking cranberry juice was higher likely due to palatability issues.
Moreover, the flavonoids, which are the major constituents of cranberries have an established effect on the liver enzymes known as cytochrome P450. Additionally, the flavonoids have interaction with aromatase inhibitor enzymes which have an impact on the estrogen biosynthesis. This means that flavonoids have a number of interactions with different medications and could increase or decrease the serum concentrations of certain drugs. Thus, the use of cranberry extract should be done with the approval of your healthcare provider, especially if you are considering it for the prevention of UTIs.
In comparison, other healthcare providers and researchers such as Dr. Kalpana Gupta, professor of medicine at Boston University of Medicine, and an expert of UTIs in women, still believe that cranberries have some protective role in UTIs. She believes that women should still discuss the option of incorporating cranberries in the diet. Another epidemiologist at the University of Michigan supports the use of cranberries in that at least they provide hydration and diuretic properties, thus helping patients urinate more to get rid of the infection. In essence, if you think that you are benefiting from cranberries, and they are helping you fight the infection, then you can discuss the option of taking these extracts in addition to regular medication with your healthcare provider.
If you are suffering from any urinary tract infection, then it is best to seek professional help. Book an appointment with a top urologist in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.