Many patients who receive radiation therapy to the pelvis for prostate, bladder, rectal, gynecologic and other cancers will develop temporary side effects from inflammation of the bladder (radiation cystitis.) Occasionally, some of these patients will also develop urinary tract infections (UTIs) during or after radiation treatment.
A randomized trial of over 900 patients has reported that patients taking a 200 mg enteric-coated cranberry extract supplement during their radiation treatment for prostate cancer had a significantly lower risk of developing UTIs and radiation cystitis symptoms compared with patients who were not taking this supplement.
Although the study was not designed with a placebo arm, it was a large study which noted a sizable difference in outcomes between the groups.
We need a placebo controlled trial to prove the effectiveness of this therapy, but for the time being I feel that it’s certainly worth considering taking a cranberry supplement if you are going to be receiving pelvic radiation therapy. There’s not much of a downside if it doesn’t work.
See side effects and interactions (below.)