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Research confirms benefits of probiotic and cranberry supplement in tackling recurrent UTIs

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The results of a clinical trial have revealed that a supplement of probiotics and cranberry significantly reduces the number of recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTIs) in pre-menopausal women.

Published in the journal, Expert Review of Anti-Infective Therapy, the researchers found that the supplement, containing two specially selected strains of live bacteria and cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs), plus vitamin A, lowered the number of rUTIs in pre-menopausal women, as well as shortening the duration of active UTIs, and reducing the need for antibiotic treatment.

The study included 90 adult pre-menopausal women (18-plus), who had been diagnosed with rUTI, based on two or more episodes in the last six months, or three or more episodes in the last 12 months. During the double blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, the patients received either the probiotic-cranberry supplement (Bio-Kult Pro-Cyan) at one capsule twice per day, or a placebo over the duration of six months.

By the end of the six month trial, the incidence of rUTIs in those taking the probiotic and cranberry supplement compared to the placebo was significantly reduced (9.1 per cent incidence in the probiotic and cranberry supplement group compared
to 33.3 per cent in the placebo group), which meant that those in the probiotic and cranberry group were almost four times less likely to experience a UTI than the placebo group. The probiotic and cranberry supplement group also produced statistically significant improvements compared with the placebo group in several secondary endpoints, including a longer period before the first UTI (174 days compared to 90) and reduced duration of infection (five days compared to 12).

It was also found that fewer women required antibiotic treatment for acute UTIs (three women compared to 11), fewer courses of antibiotics were needed to treat acute UTIs (three versus 14) and the average duration of antibiotic treatment was >40 per cent shorter than the placebo group (four compared to seven days).

Prominent gut health expert, Professor Glenn Gibson, Professor of Food Microbiology and Head of Food Microbial Sciences at the University of Reading, commented: “This is a very well conducted and reported study that adds to the body of important data on positive effects of probiotics. UTIs are a source of much discomfort and pain for millions of women worldwide and anything that can be done to alleviate this is certainly welcome. The mechanisms of action here are likely direct inhibition of the pathogens responsible for UTIs, as well as overall immune stimulation. The added advantage is that good probiotics are safe for human use and therefore carry negligible risk. It is good to see in vivo studies such as this, as these provide a much more reliable assessment of impact than animal or laboratory models.”

Dr Ashton Harper, Medical Director at ADM Protexin and author, added: “UTIs are amongst the most common types of infection, with the highest incidence occurring in adult women. Over 50 per cent of all women will experience at least one UTI during their lifetime, with 20-30 per cent suffering from recurrent infections. Antibiotics are commonly used to both treat and prevent UTIs. However, the alarming rise in antibiotic resistance, coupled with the negative ecological impact they can have on our beneficial resident microbes, results in a double-edged sword.

“The substantial reduction in both the number of UTIs and antibiotic courses achieved in this trial is extremely encouraging. Future research conducted in the hospital setting, and additional patient sub-groups, will hopefully broaden the scope of application of this product even further.”

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