The protective effects of cranberries toward urinary tract health may also extend to men’s prostates, according to a new study from the Czech Republic – the first of its kind to report such benefits.
Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, scientists from Palacky University in Olomouc report that six months of supplementation with 1,500 mg per day of dried powdered cranberries significantly improved measures of prostate health.
Using Decas Botanical Synergies’ PACran ingredient, the Czech scientists report improvements in the International Prostate Symptom Score, ‘quality of life’ measures, urination parameters, and lower levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a marker commonly used to screen for prostate cancer and for tracking the disease after its diagnosis.
“Our trial is the first to evaluate cranberry in the treatment of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) specifically in men with [benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)], elevated PSA levels and non-bacterial prostatitis,” wrote the researchers, led by Dr Jitka Vostalova.
“Unlike currently used medication for prostatitis and LUTS, cranberry has no adverse effects. Our findings may assist men suffering from LUTS, and also their clinicians, to decide on a treatment that is both inexpensive and natural, like cranberry,” they added.
Cranberries and urinary tract health
The link between cranberries and urinary tract health is well established, and linked to its proanthocyanidin (PAC) content. In 2004 France became the first country to approve a health claim for the North American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) with at least 36mg of proanthocyanidins (PAC) to “help reduce the adhesion of certain E. coli bacteria to the urinary tract walls”, and subsequently fight urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The new study extends our understanding of cranberries, indicating a role for the red fruit for prostate health.
Both BPH and chronic prostatitis (CP) are linked to lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). BPH is a non-cancerous swelling in the prostate gland of older men. It affects approximately 25 per cent of American Caucasians over the age of 50, with the direct cost of BPH in 2000 calculated to be $1.1 billion (€ 0.9 billion). According to the European Association of Urology, 30 per cent of men older that 65 are affected by BPH.
The Czech researchers recruited 42 men with an average age of 63 to participate in their six month study. Results showed that people in the cranberry group experienced statistically significant improvements in all of the targeted markers, while no significant improvements in the control group.
“The results of the present trial are the first firm evidence that cranberries may ameliorate LUTS, independent of benign prostatic hyperplasia or C-reactive protein level,” said the researchers.
The study was welcomed by Dan Souza, director of sales and marketing for Decas Botanical Synergies, as “groundbreaking”.
“This groundbreaking study proves that cranberry isn’t solely for women’s health anymore. As the only cranberry ingredient in the world clinically shown to support prostate health, PACran will expand the global market for condition-specific cranberry ingredients beyond urinary tract health.
“We look forward to working with our customers to introduce new prostate health products for consumers utilizing PACran,” he added.
Source: British Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1017/S0007114510002059
“The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms”
Authors: A. Vidlar, J. Vostalova, J. Ulrichova, V. Student, D. Stejskal, R. Reichenbach, J. Vrbkova, F. Ruzicka, V. Simanek