A placebo beverage fared better than cranberry juice in protecting against repeat urinary tract infections (UTIs) in 319 female college students presenting with acute UTI.

The women were assigned to drink either eight ounces of 27%-cranberry juice or a placebo juice twice a day for six months or until another UTI developed.

Although the investigators expected to see a 30% recurrence rate in the placebo group, the actual overall recurrence rate was 16.9%, with the cranberry-juice group experiencing a slightly higher recurrence rate than the placebo-takers (20% vs. 14%, respectively).

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The placebo juice might have inadvertently contained the same UTI-reducing active ingredients as cranberry juice, according to a report in Clinical Infection Diseases (2011;52:23-30).