Influence of cranberry juice on the urinary risk factors for calcium oxalate kidney stone formation


Prof A. Rodgers, Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town, Cape Town 7701, South Africa.


Cranberry juice is popular remedy for many ills; apart from the pleasant tasting many people drink it to help in preventing UTIs and stones. Authors from Cape Town (where there is the added benefit of an excellent climate) assessed the influence of cranberry juice on urinary risk factors for calcium oxalate calculi in a randomized crossover trial, showing that it has anti-lithogenic properties. In the second paper, authors from Jerusalem report on 14 patients with distal ureteric strictures after kidney transplantation, all of whom were treated endourologically. They found transurethral incision of the distal ureteric stricture to be effective.


To investigate the potential influence of cranberry juice on urinary biochemical and physicochemical risk factors associated with the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones, as this product might affect the chemical composition of urine.


Urinary variables were assessed in a randomized cross-over trial in 20 South African men (students) with no previous history of kidney stones. The first group of 10 subjects drank 500 mL of cranberry juice diluted with 1500 mL tap water for 2 weeks, while the second group drank 2000 mL of tap water for the same period. This was followed by a 2-week ‘washout’ period before the two groups crossed over. During the experimental phase subjects kept a 3-day food diary to assess their dietary and fluid intakes; 24-h urine samples were collected at baseline and on day 14 of the trial periods, and analysed using modern laboratory techniques. Urine analysis data were used to calculate the relative urinary supersaturations of calcium oxalate, uric acid and calcium phosphate. Data were assessed statistically by analysis of variance.


The ingestion of cranberry juice significantly and uniquely altered three key urinary risk factors. Oxalate and phosphate excretion decreased while citrate excretion increased. In addition, there was a decrease in the relative supersaturation of calcium oxalate, which tended to be significantly lower than that induced by water alone.


Cranberry juice has antilithogenic properties and, as such, deserves consideration as a conservative therapeutic protocol in managing calcium oxalate urolithiasis.