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Cranberry juice can cure ulcers

Anahad O Connor NYT

True or false?

Cranberry juice has a long history as a home remedy for bladder infections. But scientists in recent years have quietly studied whether it might also work against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium responsible for most ulcers.

Scientists have known for some time that the juice effectively prevents some species of bacteria from adhering to the cell receptors along the urinary tract, which in theory should reduce the risk of bladder infections. The same mechanism is believed to work against ulcer formation: Compounds in cranberry juice called proanthocyanidins are thought to keep H. pylori from adhering to the lining of the stomach.

Most studies have found that consuming cranberry juice does seem to produce improvement in people prone to ulcers. In one randomised, double-blind study published in the journal Nutrition in 2008, researchers followed 271 children and teenagers who tested positive for H. pylori. Over three weeks, one group drank 200 millilitres of cranberry juice daily, another was given a probiotic supplement containing competing bacteria, and another received a placebo. At the end of the study, the cranberry group had significantly higher “eradication rates” of H. pylori than the placebo group, and a slightly better rate of improvement than the group taking only probiotics.

A study of almost 200 people published in 2005 had similar results. Drinking one cup of cranberry juice daily eliminated H. pylori in three times as many subjects as a daily cranberrylike placebo juice, though some of the subjects experienced no benefit.


The verdict

Researchers have found that cranberry juice may help prevent ulcers.

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