New guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have declared that drinking cranberry juice has no effect on urinary tract infections (UTIs).
‘We recognise that the majority of UTIs will require antibiotic treatment, but we need to be smarter with our use of these medicines,’ said Mark Baker, director of the centre of guidelines at NICE.
‘Our new guidance will help healthcare professionals to optimise their use of antibiotics. This will help to protect these vital medicines and ensure that no one experiences side effects from a treatment they do not need.’
Some studies have suggested that cranberry juice may be effective – for example, a review in the Archives of Internal Medicine claims there may be benefits, however, people must have consumed a couple of glasses daily for many months or even years.
Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, which prevent certain bacteria, such as E.coli which causes 80% of UTIs, from collecting on the walls of the bladder.
The NICE guidelines recommend that patients visit their GPs who might prescribe them antibiotics. This may not always be the best treatment as infections can clear up on their own. Additionally, some clinicians are warning GPs to think carefully before prescribing because of antimicrobial resistance.
‘Our surveillance shows that more than a third of laboratory confirmed E.coli UTIs display resistance to key antibiotics. We are therefore urging GP practices and hospitals to follow the new guidelines so they can prescribe antibiotics appropriately to their patients,’ said Susan Hopkins, deputy director for AMR (Antimicrobial Research Collaborative) and Healthcare Associated Infections at Public Health England.
‘This will preserve our antibiotics so they not only save lives today but can continue to save lives tomorrow.’