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Popular holiday fruit could help fight urinary tract infections

LINTHICUM, MD, November 24, 2008—Patients worried about their bladder health have one more reason to have an extra helping of cranberries this Thanksgiving: the fruit could help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Long used as a home remedy for simple UTIs, cranberries are useful in preventing these infections because cranberry compounds, called proanthocyanidins, inhibit bacteria growth on the bladder wall.

If left untreated, a simple UTI could spell trouble for the bladder and kidneys. UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urinary tract and multiply in the urethra. The lining of the urethra becomes red and irritated, like a sore throat. If the infection in the urethra (urethritis) is left unchecked, bacteria can move deeper into the urinary tract to the bladder (cystitis) and throughout the ureters into the kidneys (pyelonephritis). Kidney infections are extremely dangerous and can lead to life-threatening conditions such as bacteremia (bacteria in the bloodstream) if left untreated.

UTIs affect millions of people and account for more than 8 million doctor visits per year. Frequent, sometimes painful urination is the most painful symptom. Your urine may also be cloudy, or have a stronger odor than usual. In some cases, you may also have hematuria, or blood in the urine. Hematuria is a common UTI symptom, but may also be caused by a more serious problem in the urinary tract. It is important to get prompt medical attention if you have blood in your urine.

Urologists caution that cranberries might not help everyone and urge patients to seek treatment if they have UTI symptoms. Other methods of UTI prevention include proper hydration and judicious use of antibiotics prescribed by a physician. To avoid UTIs, you should not delay or refrain from urinating and should not rush when urinating. Retaining urine and not emptying your bladder completely can increase your risk of a UTI.

During this important month and throughout the year, the American Urological Association can provide information, statistics and expert commentary on subjects related to bladder health. The AUA can assist in developing related story topics on bladder health, such as:


  • Maintaining bladder health
  • How to deal with day-to-day incontinence
  • New technologies or products to assist the incontinent
  • New risk factors for bladder cancer
  • New techniques and technology to treat bladder cancer
  • Treatment options for bladder cancer
  • Life after a cystectomy


Please contact Lacey Dean at 410-689-4054 to schedule an interview with Tomas Griebling, MD, associate professor of Urology, vice chair of Urology and assistant scientist in the Center on Aging at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City.


About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 16,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including UrologyHealth.org, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.

Lacey Dean, AUA