Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bittersweet Benefits of the Cranberry

People prone to kidney stones may want to pass on the cranberry sauce and Craisins. Although often touted as a preventive against kidney stones, new research suggests cranberries and cranberry juice actually may exacerbate the formation of calcium-oxalate stones, the most common type of kidney stone. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center had 24 people drink either 1 liter of cranberry juice daily for one week or 1 liter of water daily for a week. The following week the participants switched.

On average, cranberry juice increased the participants’ urinary levels of calcium oxalate by 18 percent. The researchers concluded that the juice raises the risk for calcium oxalate and uric acid stones but lowers the risk for the rare brushite stones.

The study suggests that people with a predisposition to suffering from kidney stones should stick to orange juice, which helps fight stone formation. Everyone else can continue to bask in the berries, though: Numerous studies show cranberry juice helps alleviate recurrent urinary tract infections. —Kristin Bjornsen

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