For years, women have turned to cranberry juice and capsules to help battle the painful effects of cystitis and other urinary tract infections (UTIs).
But it seems that advice surrounding cranberry helping to banish infection could be a myth.
A new study found that taking cranberry capsules had no significant effect on older women with UTIs when compared with a placebo.
“This trial did not show a benefit of cranberry capsules,” the study’s authors wrote.
UTIs are common infections that can affect the bladder, kidneys and the tubes connected to them.
They are particularly common among women, often causing symptoms such as a need to urinate more often than usual or pain and discomfort when going to the toilet.
Typically, treatment consists of taking antibiotics, however some people recommend drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry capsules to relieve symptoms.
For the new study, which was published in the journal JAMA, researchers issued cranberry capsules and placebo capsules to 185 elderly women, with an average age of 85, residing in nursing homes.
They did this as UTI is the most commonly diagnosed infection among nursing home residents.
Researchers discovered that there was no significant difference in presence of bacteria and white blood cells in the urine, which is a sign of urinary tract infection.
There was also no difference among participants in the number of episodes of UTIs over the course of the year.
Researchers wrote: “Many studies of cranberry products have been conducted over several decades with conflicting evidence of its utility for UTI prevention.
“The results have led to the recommendation that cranberry products do not prevent UTI overall but may be effective in older women.
“This trial did not show a benefit of cranberry capsules in terms of a lower presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria among older women living in nursing homes.”
In an accompanying editorial, Lindsay Nicolle, from the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, said: “The continuing promotion of cranberry use to prevent recurrent UTI in the popular press or online advice seems inconsistent with the reality of repeated negative studies or positive studies compromised by methodological shortcomings.
“Any continued promotion of the use of cranberry products seems to go beyond available scientific evidence and rational reasoning.”
She added that “it is time to identify other potential approaches for [UTI] management”.
“It is time to move on from cranberries,” she concluded.