Sudee's Arthur, relaxing in
Cranberries go to the
dogs ... and cats
By DUNSTAN PRIAL, Standard-Times staff writer
The human health benefits of cranberries have been recognized
by medical science for decades.
Now the cranberry industry hopes the nation's millions of pet
owners will apply the same concept to their beloved cats and
A study to be released today by UMass Dartmouth's Center for
Business Research has identified the $14 billion-a-year pet
food industry as a potentially wide-open market for the
"As everybody knows, there's been a cranberry surplus for
some time. The idea of this study was to identify new
markets," said Nora Ganim Barnes, a UMass Dartmouth
marketing professor who oversaw the study.
Attempts to market cranberries to young people on college
campuses has met with lukewarm results, according to Ms.
But then Jeff LaFleur, executive director of the Cape Cod
Cranberry Growers Association, recalled that some high-end pet
food manufacturers use cranberries in their products and
market their use as a health benefit.
That got Ms. Barnes and her team of researchers thinking.
They set to work identifying as many pet food manufacturers as
they could, coming up with a list of 93. They were able to
contact 42 for extensive interviews regarding the use of
The good news, according to Ms. Barnes, is that the UMass
Dartmouth study has determined that 38 of the 93 pet food
makers are using cranberries in their products.
"That's better than one-third," she said.
The bad news is that the three largest pet food manufacturers
-- Nestle, Proctor & Gamble and Hill's -- which account
for about two-thirds of the overall market, are not using
cranberries, according to Ms. Barnes.
"They want scientific evidence that cranberries would
offer health benefits to animals," she said.
Evidence exists of the cranberry's benefits to humans, but not
yet for animals, she added.
The cranberry industry has promoted the fruit to humans as an
antidote for helping prevent urinary tract infections, said
Mr. LaFleur of the Cranberry Growers Association.
"Now we're hoping the leap has been made to pets,"
he said. "Certainly, one could make the connection that
if cranberries help humans, it could help pets, as well. When
you look at the size of that market, it's got amazing
potential. It's very exciting."
Mr. LaFleur noted that the American Animal Hospital
Association has for years encouraged pet owners to add an
ounce or two of cranberry juice to their pets' meals as a
precautionary measure against urinary tract infections.
So it stands to reason, he said, that some manufacturers of
premium pet foods have taken the initiative and added the
berries to their products.
None of this comes as news to Patrick Renaghan, manager of
Denise's Pet Care Center in Mattapoisett.
Customers regularly request a high-end brand, Wellness Pet
Foods, which includes cranberries in its ingredients,
according to Mr. Renaghan.
Cranberries, he said, "contribute to a fully well-rounded
diet. They can help with urinary tract infections and they are
high in anti-oxidants. They're good for the overall health of
The industry, Mr. LaFleur added, should use the UMass
Dartmouth study to aggressively pursue a strategy that
encourages the wider use of cranberries in pet food.
"It's definitely something the industry needs to look
into a lot closer," he said.
Cranberry juice may help
prevent gum disease
New research presented at a recent symposium
suggests that cranberry juice may help prevent certain oral
health problems, including diseases of the gums and teeth.
Dr. Hyun Koo from the University
of Rochester examined cranberry juice's ability to prevent
Streptococcus mutans bacteria from sticking to teeth. If the
bacteria cannot adhere, then they cannot develop the buildup of
dental plaque that covers the teeth and begins to cause cavities
and even gum disease. Dr. Koo presented his research at the Cranberry
Institute's Second Biennial Cranberry Health Research
Symposium, held in October in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Prominent
health experts gathered from North America to present new
findings on cranberries' role in preventing a number of diseases
In Dr. Koo's in vitro study, two daily doses of a beverage
containing 25 percent cranberry juice inhibited bacteria binding
and further accumulation to an artificial tooth surface by 67 to
85 percent. As new cranberry oral health products such as dental
floss or toothpaste, already on the market, become more widely
available, people around the country will be able to apply this
research to their daily routines for a healthier smile.
The symposium also offered a glimpse into the research
studies funded by a landmark $2.6 million federal initiative to
explore cranberries' health effects. The National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National
Institutes of Health is funding nine cranberry studies,
primarily researching the unique activity of cranberry in
preventing the adhesion of certain disease-causing bacteria to
cells and tissues in our bodies. While much of this program
focuses on the well-known effect of cranberry in helping prevent
urinary tract infections (UTIs), the NCCAM grants will also fund
additional research by Dr. Koo on cranberries' bacteria-
blocking mechanism at work in maintaining oral health. Other
recent findings suggest a similar effect on the bacteria that
cause most stomach ulcers.
Much of the research presented at the cranberry health
symposium concentrated on more deeply understanding the effect
on UTIs. A new study by Dr. Amy Howell of Rutgers
University and Dr. Kalpana Gupta of Yale University suggests
a dose-dependent response. In this study, drinking eight ounces
of cranberry juice more than doubled the benefit from drinking
only four ounces.
Other recent research has investigated the naturally high
levels of antioxidants in cranberries, one benefit of which may
be to help protect the heart from cardiovascular disease. A
limited study by Dr. Ted Wilson of Winona
State University demonstrated a decrease in total blood
cholesterol when low-calorie cranberry juice was consumed.
Another study by Dr. Joseph Vinson of the University of
Scranton, examining only patients with high cholesterol,
observed an increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL, or the
"good" cholesterol) using cranberry juice cocktail.
Additional research points to a potential link between
cranberries and protection against brain cell damage during a
stroke. A preliminary rat cell tissue study, led by principal
investigator Dr. Catherine Neto at the University
Dartmouth, suggests that cranberry may reduce the severity
of a stroke via an antioxidant mechanism during the early stages
of stroke, the point at which the most damage occurs.
Lastly, cranberries' antioxidant profile may also help
prevent certain cancers. While data is preliminary, researchers
are interested in cranberries' role in inhibiting growth of
oral, prostate, colon, breast, cervical, lung and leukemia