Cranberry is not effective for the prevention or treatment of urinary tract infections in individuals with spinal cord injury.
STUDY DESIGN: Literature review. OBJECTIVES: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common medical complication experienced by individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Recent research presents conflicting evidence regarding use of cranberry in reducing growth and colonization of uroepithelial cells by uropathogenic bacteria. The objective was to determine whether the literature supports the use of cranberry in preventing or treating UTIs in the SCI population. METHODS: MEDLINE was searched for intervention studies, which investigated the use of cranberry in the prevention or treatment of UTIs in the SCI population. If the studies met the inclusion criteria, full articles were located and reviewed. RESULTS: Five studies (four randomized clinical control-three trials using cranberry tablets vs placebos and one using cranberry juice-and one pilot study using cranberry juice) were identified which evaluated the effectiveness of cranberry products for the prevention or treatment of UTIs in the SCI population. Three studies reported no statistically significant effect of cranberry tablets in urinary pH, urinary bacterial count, urinary white blood cell (WBC) count, urinary bacterial, and WBC counts in combination or episodes of symptomatic UTIs. A fourth study showed that cranberry juice intake significantly reduced biofilm load compared with baseline. A final study reported fewer UTIs during the period with cranberry extract tablets vs placebo. CONCLUSIONS: Limited evidence from clinical trials that vary in design suggests that cranberry, in juice or supplement form, does not seem to be effective in preventing or treating UTIs in the SCI population. More rigorous clinical research is needed to confirm this.