August 27, 2010

Cranberry Juice Fights Bacteria

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New scientific evidence confirms the effectiveness of that old folk remedy "“"“ cranberry juice "“"“ for urinary tract infections.

"A number of controlled clinical trials -- these are carefully designed and conducted scientific studies done in humans -- have concluded that cranberry juice really is effective for preventing urinary tract infections," study leader Terri Anne Camesano, Ph.D., of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was quoted as saying. "That has important implications, considering the size of the problem and the health care costs involved."

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for an estimated 8 million medical visits each year, at a total cost of more than $1.6 billion. Bacterial infections of the urinary tract can occur anywhere between the urethra, the opening where urine is excreted from the body, and the kidney. As many as one in three women experience a UTI at some point. Studies suggest that only half of women with UTIs seek medical care for the mildest symptoms, which include burning and urgency.

Camesano said the study sought to shed light on how cranberry juice fights E. coli, the most common cause of UTIs. The study involved growing strains of E. coli in urine collected from healthy volunteers before and after consumption of cranberry juice cocktail, a mixture of cranberry juice, water, and sweeteners, which is the most popular cranberry beverage. The scientists then tested the E. coli for their ability to stick together and form biofilms -- thin, slimy layers that provide an environment for bacteria to grow and multiply so that an infection can take root and become more severe.

The scientists found that cranberry juice cocktail prevents E. coli from sticking to other bacteria and to the surface of a plastic petri dish. E. coli that doesn't stick has a better chance of being flushed out of the urinary tract. The results suggest that the beneficial substances in cranberry juice could reach the urinary tract and prevent bacterial adhesion within eight hours after consumption.

Camesano emphasized that individuals who suspect an infection should seek medical advice immediately. UTIs can progress rapidly and, left untreated with antibiotics, can result in severe illness, especially in children, individuals with chronic health problems and the elderly.

SOURCE:  Presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Boston, August 23, 2010.