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Cranberry extract matches antibiotics for UTIs

Cranberry extract is just as good as use of antibiotics for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTI) in older women, but without the side-effects, claim researchers.

In a head-to-head randomised controlled trial of 137 women over the age of 45 years who had two or more antibiotic-treated UTIs in the past year, there was no significant difference in time to first recurrence of UTI among women who took 500mg cranberry extract and those who took low-dose 100mg trimethoprim for six months.

During the study, 39 participants (28%) had an antibiotic-treated UTI - 25 in the cranberry group and 14 in the trimethoprim group.

Although gastrointestinal upsets were equally common in both groups, the side effect of itch or rash was more common with trimethoprim.

Professor Marion McMurdo, head of ageing and health at the University of Dundee said: 'Trimethoprim had a very limited advantage over cranberry extract in the prevention of recurrent UTIs in older women and had more adverse effects.

'Our findings will allow older women with recurrent UTIs to weigh up with their clinicians the inherent attractions of a cheap, natural product like cranberry extract whose use does not carry the risk of antimicrobial resistance or super-infection with C. difficile or fungi.'

She said more research was needed to assess if the findings applied to younger women with recurrent UTIs. The research was published online in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Cranberry extract just as good as trimethoprim (pictured) in treating recurrent UTIs in older patients

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