Cranberry juice has long been recommended to prevent and treat urinary tract infections in women. However, a new study reveals cranberry juice does little to prevent urinary tract infections.

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection anywhere along the urinary tract. UTI's have different names, depending on what part of the urinary tract is infected.

Prior studies suggested cranberries contain a substance that can prevent bacteria from sticking on the walls of the bladder, which may help prevent bladder and other UTIs. Also there was some evidence suggesting cranberry juice may decrease the number of UTIs over a 12 month period, particularly for women with recurrent UTIs.

Researchers from the University of Stirling reviewed 24 studies that involved more than 4,000 participants.

The study, which was published in The Cochrane Library, compared cranberry products to a placebo.

The results show that those who consume cranberry products only demonstrate 14 percent lower risk of developing UTI, compared to a placebo or no treatment in people at risk for recurrent UTIs.

Dr. Ruth Jepson, the lead study author, said cranberry juice was less effective than previously thought.

"We can't see a particular need for more studies of the effect of cranberry juice, as the majority of existing studies indicate that the benefit is small at best, and the studies have high drop-out rates," she told BBC.

Many people in the studies dropped out and stopped drinking the juice, which suggests that it may not work as a long-term preventive therapy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Symptoms of UTIs include:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • A burning sensation when urinating
  • Passing frequent, small amounts of urine
  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Urine that appears red, bright pink or cola-colored - a sign of blood in the urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain, in women
  • Rectal pain, in men

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms contact your healthcare provider. Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics to treat UTIs.