A new study has found that a standardized, high-concentration cranberry extract could lower the number of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) patients when combined with standard management.
Since the supplement is a safe option, the researchers suggested that it be considered as a treatment alternative to antibiotics and a way of possibly preventing UTIs.
“Supplementation with high titer cranberry extract (Anthocran®) for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections in elderly men suffering from moderate prostatic hyperplasia: a pilot study,” was published in the journal European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences.
Researchers at Chieti-Pescara and Genoa universities in Italy recruited 44 patients with BPH who suffered frequent urinary tract infections. Men who had been treated with antibiotics or corticosteroids during the past six months were not eligible.
In total, 21 patients were placed on standard management, and 23 on standard management with a cranberry extract supplement. Standard management consisted of advice on lifestyle and hygiene, including caffeine and alcohol intake, and physical activity.
All patients received a dose of the broad-spectrum antibiotic Monurol (fosfomycin) at the start of the study. Four days later, they provided urine samples to analyze for bacteria. If none were present, supplement patients received a capsule of Anthocran cranberry extract for 60 days.
That group had an average of 0.8 infections during the study period — significantly fewer than those in the standard management-only group, who had an average of 2.1 infections.
Researchers also compared the number of urinary tract infections during the two months before the study to those recording during the assessment. Both groups reported similar numbers of infections — an average of 3.2 — prior to the study.
Patients seemed to benefit from the standard management alone, but its effect was not statistically significant. The change among those who also received the cranberry supplement was significantly larger.
Cranberry extract and juice have long been used to treat urinary tract infections, but scientific evidence of their effectiveness has only recently been evaluated. These studies do not always reach the same conclusions, and the researchers noted difficulties in considering their relevance unless these studies used standardized extracts. The amount of active compounds in non-standardized supplements can vary widely, affecting results.
The research team also underscored that it is important to study older populations, as older men have substantially more urinary tract infections than younger ones, particularly if they have enlarged prostates.