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Antibiotics Beat Cranberries at Fighting Urinary Tract Infections in Study
Date:7/26/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- Many women swear by cranberry juice or capsules for the treatment and prevention of urinary tract infections, but new Dutch research indicates that antibiotics may be more effective even if they contribute to a greater risk for antibiotic resistance.

"Cranberries are less effective in the prevention, but do not result in resistant microorganisms," said study author Dr. Suzanne Geerlings, an infectious diseases expert at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. "Women with recurrent UTIs [urinary tract infections] do not like taking antibiotics for a long period because they know [about] the resistance problem. I think that doctors have to discuss the results of this study with the individual patients to make the best choice."

About half of all women will experience a UTI at some point in their lives, and 30 percent of women will develop recurrent UTIs. Escherichia coli is one of the most common causes of UTIs.

In the study, 221 women who had at least three recurrent UTIs in the previous year were randomly selected for a 12-month course of the antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) (Bactrim, Bethaprim, Cotrim, Septra), taken once daily with two placebo pills, or one cranberry capsule with 500 milligrams of cranberry extract taken twice a day with one placebo pill.

Women who took cranberry capsules were more likely to develop at least one symptomatic UTI compared with their counterparts who received the antibiotic, 4 versus 1.8, respectively. On average, women in the cranberry group developed a new UTI after four months, while recurrence occurred within eight months among those who received the antibiotic, the study showed.

Rates of antibiotic resistance tripled among women in the antibiotics group, but these did return to baseline three months after they stopped talking the medication.

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