GRAND RAPIDS, Mich -- Roughly fifty percent of women will have at least one urinary tract infection over a lifetime and up to three UTIs in one year. Anyone who has had a UTI has probably reached for cranberry juice at least a few times.
Experts now say it's time to move on from cranberries, because they don't help.
A recent study published in The JAMA Network found no reduction in UTIs for female nursing home patients who took high-dose cranberry capsules equivalent of 20 ounces of cranberry juice daily for one year.
Urologist Dr. Hector Pimentel at Spectrum Health says those who drink about a half of a liter of cranberry juice or who take cranberry extract might have a slightly lower risk of repeated infections, but overall the fruit won't help.
"If you have an infection, cranberry pills probably aren’t going to help you overcome that," Pimentel said. He says the juice is really nothing more than a waste of calories, money and space.
"Your own body will typically get rid of the infection, so even without antibiotics, sometimes, like a lot of things, you’ll heal yourself," he said.
Pimentel suggests drinking 2.5 to three liters of water per day, adding that it's important to empty out your bladder when you need to.
Women with reoccurring UTIs may still want to discuss cranberry treatment with their doctors. Men can also get UTIs, but it's uncommon and is likely a sign of a greater problem.
When it comes to treatment, Dr. Pimentel says antibiotics are your best bet.