The researchers also stressed that patients shouldn’t interpret these results as a way to self-medicate if they get a urinary tract infection, especially if they have chronic conditions or are elderly.

“It doesn’t treat an infection. It’s supposed to prevent the infection. So if someone already has a urinary tract infection, they need to go to the doctor and take medicine,” Camesano says. “But if there’s someone who routinely gets urinary tract infections or wants to stay healthy and prevent it, that’s the person we would recommend drinking cranberry juice once or twice a day.”

“It sounds like they’ve made a little more of a breakthrough to the exact mechanism,” says Tiffany Sotelo, MD, a urologist at George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of the hospital’s Pelvic Floor Center.

But she says what’s nice about this study is it shows the medical community understands how big of a problem urinary tract infections can be. Researchers estimate that there are eight million medical visits a year related to urinary tract infections that come with a price tag of more than $1.6 billion dollars to treat.

Women experience the infections more often then men, suffering from symptoms that include a burning feeling in their urinary tract and an urgent feeling that they need to relieve themselves.

“It’s a really big problem,” says Dr. Sotelo.

Dr. Sotelo says post-menopausal women in particular might want to consider adding a glass or two of cranberry juice to their daily routine since she says they are at a higher risk for urinary tract infections due to a lack of estrogen and changes to bacteria in their bodies.