I recently talked about a study out of Yale University that showed no reduction in urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women who took the equivalent of 20 ounces of cranberry juice daily, for a year (1). Voices across the medical and health space have echoed these results, referencing past studies that have shown the same. I understand that any well entrenched myth is hard to break. Especially one that promises relief from freakin’ UTIs! Trust me, I would befriend a witch and collect eye of newt for her cauldron if it meant no more UTIs.
For one, there aren’t a lot of alternatives at the moment. You can wait until you get a UTI and go to the doctor to re-up on antibiotics, or you can try to prevent them by any, ANY way necessary. In the past that has involved homebrew concoctions, behavioural rituals (let’s hear it for the post-sex pee!), and definitely the now disproven cranberry.
It doesn’t help when companies reinforce the lie. Vox.com published an editorial in June about a study by Ocean Spray (who make cranberry juice) that concluded that “cranberries can be a nutritional approach to reducing symptomatic UTIs (2)”. The study was co-authored by an Ocean Spray staff scientist, used a more favourable definition of UTIs (essentially ignoring the “Infection” part), and clustered data in a way that makes my head spin (2).
Look, I love me a vodka cran and Ocean Spray has been doing it right since 1930, but to claim that your product prevents UTIs is reckless and misleading, especially when studies outside of the funded company-run trial are so clear (3).
At Mingo Health we’re focusing on d-mannose, a naturally occurring carbohydrate which is proven, independently (yay!), to prevent the pesky bacteria’s “hooks” from working with a clear and manageable effective dose (2 grams) (4, and other studies).
Part of our mission at Mingo Health is to de-mystify and de-mythify something that impacts so many women, of all ages, all over the world. I think we can all agree that step 1 is to stop believing the cranberry hype and those who perpetuate it.
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(1) The New York Times – October 27, 2016; Jan Hoffman; The Cure for UTIs? It’s Not Cranberries.
(2) Belluz, Julia. "How juice companies game science to perpetuate the myth that cranberry prevents UTIs." Vox, Vox. 17 June 2016.
(3) “Cochrane.”Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections | Cochrane, www.cochrane.org
(4) Kranjčec B, Papeš D, Altarac S. D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of recurrent urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial. World J Urol. 2014 Feb;32(1):79-84. doi: 10.1007/s00345-013-1091-6. Epub 2013 Apr 30.