Drinking More Water Really Does Ward Off Utis

June 21, 2019

Drinking six extra glasses of water a day may reduce the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) in some women, according to a new study.

The study found that women who suffer from frequent urinary tract infections can cut the risk of these infections in half if they consume six extra eight ounces (adding up to 1.5 liters) of water a day, compared to women who do not increase their water intake.

The study was published today (Oct. 1) in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. It was presented in October 2017 at IDWeek in San Diego, a meeting of several organizations focused on infectious diseases.

Doctors have long believed that increasing water intake can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, and they often recommend that women at risk for these infections drink more water. But until now, that recommendation hasn’t been rigorously studied.

“We’ve recommended a lot of things to women to reduce the risk of UTIs, but none of them have really been studied,” said Dr. Thomas Hooton, the study’s lead author and clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Miami School of Medicine, at a press conference in San Diego in 2017, when the findings were first presented.

“It’s nice to know that this advice works and that drinking water is a simple and safe way to prevent uncomfortable and annoying infections,” Hooton said.

Researchers say up to 60 percent of women will develop a urinary tract infection in their lifetime, and about 25 percent will have more than one UTI. Women are usually more susceptible to UTIs than men because, in women, the urethra is shorter, so it’s easier for bacteria to travel from the rectum and vagina to the bladder, the researchers said.

The new study involved 140 healthy women under the age of 45 who had experienced at least three UTIs in the past year and typically drank less than six 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day. Half of the women were told to drink an additional six 8-ounce cups of water a day, while the other half did not make any changes in their water consumption.

After one year, the women who increased their water intake had, on average, about 1.5 UTIs over the course of the study, compared to about three UTIs, on average, who did not increase their water intake. Most of the UTIs were caused by E. coli.

Overall, the women in the water-drinking group drank about 11 cups of water per day, compared to five cups in the other group.

“It has been said for decades that increasing fluid intake can help prevent or treat urinary tract infections,” wrote Dr. Deborah Grady, associate editor for internal medicine at JAMA, in an editorial publishing the study. The new study “confirms that folk wisdom,” Grady said.

Drinking more fluids is thought to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections because it increases the rate at which bacteria are flushed from the bladder, and may also reduce the concentration of bacteria entering the bladder from the vagina, the researchers said. That means there’s less chance of bacteria attaching to the cells on the inside of the urethra, Hooton said.

Because there were fewer urinary tract infections, the women in the water group also took fewer courses of antibiotics – on average, the women in the water group took about two courses of antibiotics, compared with 3.5 courses in the group that did not increase their water intake. Researchers say that reducing antibiotic use helps reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance.

The study was funded by Danone Research, which sells bottled water, and provided the bottled water for the study.

However, “it seems clear that any safe drinking water will do, including your local tap water,” Grady said.