PACt Fruit Infusions - © 2016 Ocean Spray

Do you ‘Take’ Cranberry Juice for UTIs?

Are you one of those folks who drinks Cranberry Juice regularly to ward off Urinary Tract Infections? You read about it in the lifestyle magazines and online. Saw the TV commercials. Maybe your doctor even suggested it once, back when. But, now, it seems the connection may be an illusion…

Cranberry Harvest - © Massuchusetts Office of TourismA traditional Cranberry Harvest. Do you believe it’s really a ‘super food’?

Back in the early years of this century, scientists reported that Cranberry Juice contains compounds that help flush bacteria from your bladder. naturally, Cranberry Juice producers jumped at the chance to bill their product as a natural ‘cleanse’ which could prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). Now, VOX Health Science reports, new evidence suggests that there4 is no firm evidence that drinking Cranberry Juice protects against UTIs or any other afflictions and the studies on which the initial claims were based are the product of  ‘shady science’.

VOX notes, with some cynicism, that:

The study had a fantastic veneer of legitimacy: The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved nearly 400 women at 18 clinical sites throughout the US, as well as a Boston University scientist.

…But, when you peeled back the veneer:

The study wasn’t just funded by [Cranberry producer] Ocean Spray; it was also co-authored by Ocean Spray staff scientists. Not only was the food company involved in nearly every step of the process but its scientists even helped write the manuscript.

In fact, Cochrane Independent Reviews found that,

To maintain levels of cranberry PAC [the bacteria-fighting compound in cranberries] that are necessary to prevent [UTIs], people would have to continuously drink the juice twice a day in servings of 150 ml for an indefinite period of time.

VOX goes on to say that:

Studies [ … ] funded by beverage companies were four to eight times more likely to come to favorable conclusions about the health effects of those beverages.

The message is, we have to be more skeptical about the findings of scientific studies funded by corporations.

Bur there’s more…

This news, about Cranberry Juice in particular and the reliability of industry-funded research in general, is all the more poignant in view of the crusade by Ocean Spray to push its new PACt Water beverage specifically as a therapeutic agent which the company claims can not only promote gastrointestinal health but help maintain cardiovascular health. In what seems to me to be a really long stretch, Ocean Spray also claims that Cranberry Juice drinkers, “are more likely to be normal weight and have significantly lower waist circumference…”

By the way…

Ocean Spray’s PACt slogan, “The Power of 50” comes from the claim that each serving of PACt contains the PACs from 50 Cranberries. By my calculations, it would take a lot more than 50 Cranberries to make 150 ml of plain old juice – the amount independent scientists say you need twice a day forever to have any impact on UTIs or other gastrointestinal conditions.

What do you think?

~ Maggie J.