New Studies Offer Hope to UTI Sufferers

New York, NY
September 9 , 2002

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) account for 11 million doctor visits each year, but drug-resistant bacteria is making treatment tricky. Over the last decade resistance to antibiotic drugs by E.coli bacteria C the most common cause of UTIs C has risen dramatically, according to the National Kidney Foundation. A new study suggests that salvation for UTI sufferers may come from the supermarket aisle rather than the drugstore counter.

Cranberries and UTI Prevention
Cranberry juice has long been linked with prevention of UTIs. Now, a joint study conducted at Rutgers University in New Jersey and the University of Michigan indicates that cranberry juice=s protective effect works against the antibiotic-resistant as well as the antibiotic-sensitive strains of E.coli.

Research suggests that cranberry juice=s protective effect may be due to ingredients called proanthocyanidins, or condensed tannins, that have an anti-adherent, or anti-stick, property, which prevents certain E.coli bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract. This may help to flush bacteria from the bladder into the urine, resulting in fewer infections.

In the Rutgers study, E.coli bacteria from men and women with UTI were introduced into urine samples from healthy people before and after drinking 8 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail. The samples taken after drinking cranberry juice cocktail prevented 79 percent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract cells, while urine samples taken before drinking cranberry juice cocktail failed to prevent adhesion. In total, the cranberry juice cocktail prevented 80 percent of all bacteria tested from sticking.

The researchers also found that cranberry juice cocktail=s beneficial effect may start within two hours and last for up to 10 hours in the urine. This suggests that drinking a serving in the morning and one in the evening may provide more effective protection than one daily serving.

"These findings are also important from a public health standpoint. If UTIs can be effectively prevented by drinking cranberry juice cocktail, resulting in fewer infections and reduced use of antibiotics, the potential risk of developing further antibiotic resistance would also be decreased," says Dr. Craig Peters of the National Kidney Foundation=s Urology Council.

To help gain insight into the causes of UTIs and, ultimately, develop treatment, the National Kidney Foundation and its partnership with Ocean Spray Cranberries is funding a study that will shed light on how drug-resistant E.coli infections are spread. The research, to be conducted at the University of California at Berkeley, will study over 500 women with UTI, collecting information about their diet and other behavior patterns, such as sexual activity, contraceptive use and travel. The goal is to find out what risk factors may contribute to the spread of drug-resistant infections and, ultimately, help develop new non-drug approaches to prevent recurrent UTI in women.

For a free brochure on UTIs, contact the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010. The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary health organization, seeks to prevent kidney and urinary tract diseases, improve the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by these diseases, and increase the availability of all organs for transplantation.