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It’s Official: Cranberry Juice Helps Prevent Bladder Infections

March 9, 1994

CHICAGO (AP) _ A scientific study has proven what many women have long suspected: Cranberry juice helps protect against bladder infections.

Researchers found that elderly women who drank 10 ounces of a drink containing cranberry juice each day had less than half as many urinary tract infections as those who consumed a look-alike drink without cranberry juice.

The study, which appeared today in The Journal of The American Medical Association, was funded by Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., but the company had no role in the study’s design, analysis or interpretation, JAMA said.

″This is the first demonstration that cranberry juice can reduce the presence of bacteria in the urine in humans,″ said lead researcher Dr. Jerry Avorn, a specialist in medication for the elderly at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Glenn Gerber of the University of Chicago said the work appeared sound.

The idea that people with recurrent urinary tract infections should drink cranberry juice often have ″been written off as an old wives’ tale,″ said Gerber, an assistant professor of urology in the surgery department.

″This is really the first study I’m aware of that’s scientifically looked at this,″ he said.

It’s unclear how cranberry juice protects against the infections, but Avorn said a chemical in cranberries - also found in blueberries - may inhibit bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall, a finding of previous studies.

People should still see their doctors and take antibiotics if prescribed, he said.

Urinary tract infections account for more than 7 million doctors’ office visits and contribute to more than 1 million U.S. hospitalizations annually, studies estimate.

Women are 10 times more likely to have such infections than men, probably because the urinary tract exits closer to the rectum in women, making contamination easier.

The infections are especially common in elderly women, said the researchers, who studied 153 Boston-area elderly women for six months.

The study used Ocean Spray’s Cranberry Juice Cocktail, which contain 27 percent cranberry juice. Avorn said any beverage containing at least that much juice should work.

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