The Effectiveness of Cranberry Products to Reduce Urinary Tract Infections in Females

A Literature Review

Peggy Wang, BS, BSN, RN


Urol Nurs. 2013;33(1):38-45. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Cranberry products, especially cranberry juice, have been posited to prevent or treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) in females. Antimicrobial resistance has been correlated to repeated antibiotic treatment. Thus, evaluating cranberry products as a possible alternative to conventional antibiotic therapy is appropriate. This review of the literature evaluated research in which cranberry-based products are used to prevent or treat UTIs.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) result from bacterial invasion of the urinary tract, causing inflammation of the uroepithelium (Shankel, 2007). An infection is present when clinical laboratory results reveal the presence of asymptomatic bacterial colonization greater than 100,000 bacteria of the same strain per milliliter of urine in two consecutive voided specimens, or the presence of bacterial colonization greater than 100 bacteria of the same strain per milliliter of urine in a single catheterized urine specimen (Nicolle et al., 2005). UTIs are typically classified according to the anatomical site involved (Jancel & Dudas, 2002). Infections involving the kidneys, or pyelonephritis, are accompanied by upper back and flank pain, fever, chills, nausea, and vomiting (Shankel, 2007). Bladder infections, or cystitis, are characterized by pelvic pressure, lower abdominal discomfort, dysuria, and hematuria (Shankel, 2007). The clinical manifestation of urethritis, which indicates involvement of the urethra, is typically dysuria (Shankel, 2007).

UTIs are the most prevalent nosocomial infections and ac count for 38% of the 2 million hospitalacquired infections (HAIs) that occur annually (Clancey, 2010). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UTIs comprised more than 560,000 infections in 2002 (Gould et al., 2010), increasing hospital costs by $400 million to $500 million per year (Foxman, 2002) and causing more than 13,000 deaths annually (Klevens et al., 2007).