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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Michigan Researchers Identify Health Benefit of Cranberries

University of Michigan researchers have identified one more health benefit of the tart, red berries we most often associate with the holidays.

Cranberries — in this case, in extract capsule form — have been found to lower the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) by 50 percent in women who have a catheter in place while undergoing elective gynecological surgery.

[Photo: Dr. Betsy Foxman]

The reduction in infection rates was similar to the outcome when patients take antibiotics as a preventative measure, said lead author Dr. Betsy Foxman, the Hunein F. and Hilda Maassab Endowed Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Molecular and Clinical Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases at the U-M School of Public Health.

“Taking cranberry juice capsules is preferable to taking antibiotics, because limiting antibiotic use helps avoid antibiotic resistance and protects the good bacteria living in and on our bodies from inadvertent damage,” Dr. Foxman said. “We should save antibiotics for UTI treatment, as cranberry juice capsules are equally effective in preventing UTI post-elective gynecologic surgery.”

Women who undergo these procedures have as much as a 64 percent chance to develop a UTI after the catheter is removed.

For the trial, 160 study participants, ages 23-88, were divided into two groups. Half took two cranberry extract capsules twice a day for six weeks, while the other half took a placebo. All participants were recruited from the Urogynecology and Minimally Invasive Surgery clinics of the U-M Division of Gynecology.

The research is reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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