Cranberries may fight ulcer-causing bacteria in humans

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Cranberry juice may enhance the power of antibiotics to clear the
stomach of women of a bacteria known to cause ulcers and cancer,
new research reports.

Results from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial involving 177 patients with Helicobacter pylori​ infection, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research​, suggest that drinking cranberry juice during and after a weeklong antibiotic course enhances the eradication of the bacteria by about 10 per cent. However, no beneficial effect was observed in men, reported the researchers from Tel Aviv University. "Our present study with the cranberry perhaps opens a window to explore more gender-associated differences in the complex​ H. pylori-host interactions,"​ wrote the authors. H. pylori​ is the only bacteria that can survive in the acidic environment of the stomach and it is known to cause peptic ulcers and gastritis. Infection with H. pylori​ also causes gastritis, and infected persons are said to have a two to six-fold increased risk of developing mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, and gastric cancer compared with uninfected counterparts. In background information in the article, lead author Haim Shmuely and co-authors state that in vitro studies have reported that cranberry juice can inhibit the adhesion of many pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, urinary tract, and gastro-intestinal tract. The researchers randomly assigned the patients to an initial course of antibiotics, omeprazole, amoxicillin and clarithromycin (OAC) with either cranberry juice (250 ml, 89 patients) or placebo beverage (88 patients) twice daily for one week, and then only cranberry juice or placebo beverage for a further two weeks. Shmuely and co-workers report that, for the whole population, no significant difference in the rate of H. pylori eradication was observed between the groups, with an average eradication rate of 82.5 per cent. When the patients were considered according to their sex, however, significant benefits were observed for cranberry juice consumption in the women, with the eradication rate higher in the cranberry-OAC arm (95.2 per cent) than in the placebo-OAC arm (86.8 per cent). A group of subjects given only OAC and no cranberry or placebo experienced an average H. pylori eradication rate of only 80 per cent. "It is too early to speculate how cranberry in concert with the triple OAC therapy act to increase eradication of H. pylori or reduce its mass,"​ wrote the authors. "The juice lack bactericidal activity but contains anti-adhesion agent (s), which may act to inhibit the adhesion of the bacteria to the gastric mucus and cells and thus renders the planktonic non-adherent bacteria to become more susceptible to the antibiotics as well as to the normal cleansing mechanisms of the gut,"​ they added. Corresponding author Itzhak Ofek told NutraIngredients.com that, dependent on funding, the research group intends to continue this research on females, especially in a population with extremely high rate of helicobacter carriage. The study was partially funded by Ocean Spray Cranberries, but the sponsors were not actively involved in the study. None of the authors reported any financial relationship with the company. Source: Molecular Nutrition & Food Research​ Volume 51, Issue 6 , Pages 746 - 751 "Effect of cranberry juice on eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients treated with antibiotics and a proton pump inhibitor" ​Authors: Haim Shmuely, Jacob Yahav, Zmira Samra, Gabriel Chodick, Rivka Koren, Yaron Niv, Itzhak Ofek

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