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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 23:51 GMT 00:51 UK
Cranberry juice beats infection
Cranberries
Cranberries have been found to cut urinary tract infections
Women have long suspected the humble cranberry can help them beat urinary tract infections - now it is official.

Scientists from Finland have proved that drinking its juice can cut the risk of infection by half.

Up to 60% of women have a urinary tract infection at some point in their lives and at least a third of these will have a recurrence within the next year.

Women in the 25-29 age group and the over 55s are at most risk of urinary tract infection.


Our study confirms the common belief that symptomatic recurrences of urinary tract infection can be prevented with cranberry juice

Study researchers

The researchers from the University of Oulu selected 150 volunteers with a history of urinary tract infections and split them into three groups.

The first group was asked to drink 1.5 fluid ounces of concentrate cranberry and lingonberry (a similar fruit) juice.

The second group was given three ounces of Lactobacillus GG, a drink containing "friendly" intestinal bacteria.

And the third group received nothing.

Cranberry juice
Drinking cranberry and lingonberry juice can cut infection by half
At the end of the six month trial the scientists found that out of the women who had taken the cranberry and lingonberry juice only 16% had infections, compared to 36% in the control group.

They also found that the infection rate was even greater in the Lactobacillus group at 39%.

This could drastically reduce the cost of medical bills. In the United States alone, more than $1.6bn are spent annually on antibiotic prescriptions for women with urinary tract infections.

Success

The scientists said: "Our study confirms the common belief that symptomatic recurrences of urinary tract infection can be prevented with cranberry juice."

The team said it was unclear why the little red berry was so successful, but that previous research suggested that high levels of proanthocyanidins - a form of tannin that may inhibit hair-like appendages on the commonest urinary tract bacteria, E.coli.

They thought this might prevent the E.coli from gripping to the cells and infecting them.

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