Industry Responds to Negative Cranberry, UTI Study

February 25, 2011

A study sponsored by the NIH National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has found cranberries to be less effective than placebo in reducing urinary tract infections.

With plenty of existing science already pointing to cranberries as alleviating urinary tract infection (UTI) symptoms, there’s wonder as to why a new study funded by the NIH National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has concluded the opposite. The results are now published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Researchers at the University of Michigan assigned 319 college-aged women to eight-oz. cranberry juice cocktails or placebo, twice daily for six months. Patients answered questionnaires relating to UTI symptoms and provided urine samples at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months or upon occurrence of UTI.

At the study’s completion, 19% of patients in the cranberry group actually experienced a UTI, compared to just 15% of placebo patients. Cranberry supporters contend, however, that compliance with the study protocol may could not be verified.

“The problem with this study is that there is no ability to truly measure compliance in these college age women who were paid to participate,” said Dan Souza, marketing director for Decas Botanical Synergies (Carver, MA), in an interview with Nutritional Outlook. “How do the researchers know that their subjects were actually ingesting the cranberry?”

Several researchers are actually working on idenfiying the metabolites in cranberries so that true compliance can be measured in clinical trials, says Souza.