Antibiotics are better than cranberry capsules at preventing urinary tract infections (UTI's), concluded a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, reports Reuters.

Dr. Marielle A. J. Beerepoot and her colleagues conducted a study of 221 women in Netherlands who were suffering from at least three urinary tract infections in the previous year. Dr. Beerepoot, a researcher with the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, randomly chose 110 of the women to be treated with a daily dose of an antibiotic, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) while the other 111 were given cranberry capsules twice a day for a year.

After a year women who took the cranberry capsules reported twice as many UTI's than the women who took antibiotics. Women who took antibiotics got their first infection after eight months while the women who took cranberry capsules got their first infection in four months, stated the report.

While taking antibiotics did prove more effective than the cranberry capsules there is a catch. The body tends to build up resistance to the drugs meaning that the body might not respond to the drugs while treating another infection, added the report. After just one month,  86.3 percent of the E coli samples from the antibiotic-treated women were showing resistance to the medications compared to 23.7 percent from women treated with cranberry supplements. Moreover, cranberry supplements have a lower risk of side-effects and are less likely to develop antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.

Betsy Foxman, an epidemiologist at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health in Ann Arbor, stated that since UTI was a common bacterial infection, taking large doses of antibiotics even for a short period could lead to antibiotic resistance and the bacteria that become resistant to UTI drugs could cause more serious infections, added the report.

Women with frequent UTI's should consult their doctors first taking into account antibiotic resistance. Foxman added that depending on the nature of the infection a woman had to decide whether she was "so miserable" that she needed an antibiotic or whether to go "to alternatives first."

Even though cranberry capsules are not as effective as antibiotics the fact that the former has lesser risks of side-effects and lesser danger of formation of antibiotic resistant bacteria makes it very appealing to women.

In an interview to Reuters, Health Beerepoot said that the study showed that "cranberries are less effective than the antibiotics, but antibiotic resistance is a big problem. Other studies have pointed to a possible benefit of cranberry juice or extract, without serious side effects. Maybe therefore cranberries can be an alternative for those women who don't want to take antibiotics."

Urinary tract infection is extremely common in women and its treatment is costly. It is estimated that at least one-third of all women in the United States are diagnosed with UTI by the time they reach 24 years of age states a research paper by Tomas L. Griebling.

Before deciding on what course to take while dealing with UTI it is imperative for women to consult their doctor.