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New research  published in the American Journal of Geriatrics shows that over 25% of bladder infections (cystitis) can be reduced with the regular use of cranberry concentrate supplements in vulnerable older people in nursing homes at high risk of urinary tract infections. Over 20% of these high-risk elderly did not develop any UTI's at all when taking the cranberry capsule. The Public Health and Primary Care (PHEG) department of the Leiden University Medical Center conducted the one-year study in 21 Dutch nursing homes in cooperation with the supplier of cranberry concentrate Springfield Nutraceuticals.
It's estimated that half of all women in the UK will have a UTI at least once in their life  with nearly 50% of vulnerable elderly people regularly suffering from UTI's . As many as 30% of all infections occurring in nursing homes in the UK are urinary tract infections . The importance of preventing infections in nursing homes is paramount, many residents have fragile health and for them, an infection can have serious consequences. Furthermore, resistance of bacteria commonly found to cause urinary tract infections is becoming more frequent so antibiotic therapy is not always a solution.
Effect of Cranberries
In the one-year study, 928 people with an average age of 85 years participated . During the study, cranberry capsules with a specific composition were used and compared with a placebo. The preventative effect of cranberries on urinary tract infection has been known for many years. "The Indians already knew the medicinal properties of these berries", says Monique Caljouw PhD (PHEG). "Among other particles, these berries contain the so-called PAC-particles that prevent the adhesion of infection-causing bacteria in the bladder wall," Prof. Dr. Jacobijn Gussekloo (PHEG) explains.
The benefits of taking other types of cranberry products is often disputed. Many people drink cranberry juice when they have cystitis. Cranberry juice has a sour taste and patients - especially the elderly - often fail to drink a glass twice a day, for an extended period. Using sweetened juice for a long period of time is not desirable because of the high levels of sugar used in most cranberry juices to mask the sour taste. Caljouw and Gussekloo found the use of the cranberry supplement an effective method to prevent urinary tract infections. Other prevention methods are less appropriate. "Vitamin C does not seem to work and cranberry juice has its disadvantages. The administration of a low dose of antibiotics causes resistance." "Cranberry capsules are therefore appropriate," says PhD Caljouw.
In this study the cranberry supplement used contains the whole cranberry: skin, seeds, pulp, juice and fiber which previous research has shown is preferable to those which do not contain the whole fruit. It also has a patented manufacturing process that provides a bioactive protection to all parts of the cranberry avoiding destruction by gastric acid.
Danger of Antibiotic Resistance
Because of excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics, an increasing number of bacteria have become resistant. If some infections can no longer be fought off, cystitis or pneumonia can be life-threatening. In Europe, 25,000 people die every year from bacterial infections because they are no longer treatable (Dutch Institute of Rational Use of Medicine).
A study conducted at the AMC (Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam)  revealed that cranberries are a good alternative for antibiotics for women experiencing recurrent urinary tract infections. Antibiotics were almost twice as effective during the research, but did lead to a strong increase of resistant bacteria. After one month 90% of the women became resistant against the antibiotic. These women also developed resistance against other antibiotics. In the cranberry group there was no increase in resistance.
The results of the PHEG study at the University of Leiden confirm that the use of cranberry capsules can be a natural and safe alternative for the prevention of urinary tract infections.
1. Effectiveness of Cranberry Capsules to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Vulnerable Older Persons: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial in Long-Term Care Facilities, Monique A. A. Caljouw MSc, Wilbert B. van den Hout PhD, Hein Putter PhD, Wilco P. Achterberg PhD, Jacobijn Gussekloo PhD, Herman J. M. Cools Phd. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society January 2014 - DOI: 10.1111/jgs.12593/p>
3. Cranberries vs Antibiotics to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections, A Randomized Double-blind Noninferiority Trial in Premenopausal Women.Mariëlle A. J. Beerepoot, Suzanne E. Geerlings, MD, PhD et al. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2011;171(14):1270-1278
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