A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, contrary to popular belief, cranberries don’t prevent UTIs.
Jason Gilleran, M.D., Beaumont urologist says the take-home message this study should provide is that, “one should not rely on a cranberry product as a solitary method of preventing UTIs.”
Dr. Gilleran does believe however that when used in combination with other methods, cranberry can still be helpful for some individuals.
So, what are the best ways to prevent a UTI?
Dr. Gilleran made the following recommendations:
- Identify if anything is functionally wrong with the urinary tract. For example, being unable to empty normally due to blockage, may be a cause for multiple UTIs in an individual. Correcting these can go a long way in preventing UTIs.
- In older women, many bacteria can live in the vaginal canal that would not normally live there due to hormonal changes. There is good evidence that replacing the female hormone estrogen, particularly in the vagina directly (as a cream) can ‘replenish’ the lining, lower the pH and allow the growth of “good” bacteria.
- In rare cases, the use of a daily, low-dose antibiotic can prevent UTIs, but this carries a risk of selecting out resistant antibiotics. If patients have no symptoms, it may be best to avoid antibiotic use entirely, even in the presence of bacteria in urine.
Gilleran adds, “The risk factors for recurrent UTIs is different for a young woman, compared to an older man or woman, and thus the approach to prevention can differ.”