A glass of cranberry juice a day can help women keep urinary tract infections (UTI) away, a new study found. New findings suggested that cranberries can lower the need for antibiotics worldwide.

In the recent study, a daily consumption of an 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice lowered UTI incidents by almost 40 percent among women who suffer from recurring urinary infections.

Current treatments for UTI include the prescription of chronic antibiotics. This approach has been linked not only to various side effects, but also to antibiotic resistance.

Cranberries are packed with bacteria-fighting elements and compounds, including Type-A proanthocyanidins (PACs), which can prevent bacteria from sticking to the urinary system. The red berries also have E.coli-fighting properties. This type of bacteria is one of the major causes of UTI and can be found in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

According to Professor Kalpana Gupta from Boston University, the key is to drink cranberry juice daily to help keep infection at bay.

"Most people wait to drink cranberry juice until they have a UTI, but once the symptoms start they'll likely need a course of antibiotics," Gupta said.

The researchers enrolled 373 women from the United States and France to join the 24-week study conducted at 18 clinical sites across the two countries.

The average age of the participants was 40 years old. The recruits were all healthy women who had at least two UTI episodes in the previous year before the study began. In a random selection, the women drank either a daily glass of cranberry juice or a placebo beverage.

After six months, there were only 39 UTI cases among the women who consumed cranberry juice daily. The number is significant compared to the 67 UTI cases among the non-cranberry juice drinkers (placebo).

The recent study is believed to be the biggest clinical trial that looked into cranberry juice's effect on UTI. The research was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition journal.

UTI By The Numbers

According to the American Urological Association, there are about 150 million cases of UTI around the world every year. The yearly health care cost for UTI cases is estimated at about $6 billion.

UTI is the most common bacterial infection that women suffer from. While everyone is at risk of developing this type of infection, some people are more prone than others.

Individuals who have nerve damage around their bladder, who often have trouble in emptying their bladders efficiently, are prone to developing UTI. The urine that stays in the person's bladder allows the bacteria to grow.

Patients with kidney stones and enlarged prostate or anyone with urinary tract abnormalities are also at risk. Diabetic patients or those whose natural defense systems are compromised have higher risks of developing UTI.

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