Cranberry juice could offer protection from serious ‘staph infections’ like toxic shock syndrome and MRSA, according to researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

The researchers, led by Dr Terri Camesano, professor of chemical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), reported the surprise finding of the study – that that a cranberry juice cocktail blocked a strain of Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) from beginning the process of infection.

“Most of our work with cranberry juice has been with E. coli and urinary tract infections, but we included Staphylococcus aureus in this study because it is a very serious health threat,” Prof Camesano said. “This is early data, but the results are surprising.”

Protective effects?

Cranberry has long been linked with protection from UTIs, with previous studies showing mixed reviews for the benefits of cranberry juice.

In a systematic review of the evidence the Cochrane collaboration reported: “There is some evidence that cranberry juice may decrease the number of symptomatic UTIs over a 12 month period, particularly for women with recurrent UTIs.”

However, last year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a negative opinion to global cranberry leader Ocean Spray for an article 14 health claim relating consumption of cranberry and urinary tract infection (UTI) in women.

E. coli is accountable for around 80 percent of urinary tract infections (UTIs), whilst S. aureus can cause a range of “staph infections”, ranging from minor skin rashes to serious infections like toxic shock syndrome.

Antibiotic resistant strains of S. aureus like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are a growing problem – in the USA deaths from MRSA more than doubled between 199 and 2005.

Infection occurs when bacteria manage to adhere to a host cell and form a biofilm, this thin film creates an environment where the bacteria can multiply and thrive.

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