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The Office Ladies reveal: Does Dwight Schrute have the cure for UTIs?

Television

The Office Ladies reveal: Does Dwight Schrute have the cure for UTIs?

What’s he REALLY growing on that farm?

The presence of beloved single-camera comedy The Office on Netflix (and now Peacock) has been a boon to society in recent years, bringing together those who experienced the groundbreaking program as it happened with a younger generation who’ve fallen in love with its heart and no-jokes-barred attitude. A major contributing factor to the show’s resurgence is the weekly re-watch podcast Office Ladies, produced and hosted by two of its stars, Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer.

Now Fischer is helping dispel some scientific ignorance by busting urology myths.

Well, one in particular, anyway. Episode 71 of the podcast looks at the classic Office episode “Night Out,” in which Michael and Dwight travel to New York City to visit former temp and now Dunder Mifflin corporate exec Ryan. They drop in unexpectedly on him at a nightclub, where Ryan is unusually … energetic … and keeps rubbing his nose and running to the bathroom. Being the helpful guy that he is, Dwight orders Ryan some cranberry juice, to help with that obvious urinary tract infection (UTI).

office night out cranberry juice

IMDB

“Well, this made me wonder,” Fischer said on Office Ladies. “Oh, no; about UTIs or cranberry juice?” Kinsey asked. “Both,” Fischer said. In one of the podcast’s famous deep dives, Fischer explained that she dug into the scientific research on the old folk remedy of drinking cranberry juice to prevent or “cure” a UTI, and found the evidence lacking.

“Researchers discovered that in petri dishes, the cranberry metabolites [in cranberry juice cocktail] did prevent E. coli from sticking to other bacteria, therefore limiting its ability to grow and multiply,” Fischer said, astutely pointing out that this is not the same as having an effect in the human body. She then referenced another study of 185 female nursing home residents, in which subjects were given concentrated cranberry capsules, which found no statistically significant difference in the presence of bacteria between the experimental and control groups.

“So at the end of the day,” Fischer said, “most studies suggest that juice and supplements do not have enough of the active ingredient, which is called A-type proanthocyanidins, [to affect UTIs].

This is similar to the resveratrol craze of about 15 years ago, when it was reported that the chemical found in the skin of grapes helped offset the metabolic effects of a high-calorie diet in mice. Many saw this as a reason (excuse?) to drink more red wine, but the better news stories made sure to point out you’d need to drink 1,500 bottles a day to get a comparable dose.

So a big thanks to Office Ladies for squashing a persistent pop culture myth. If only someone had thought to do a blind taste test to see if you can really tell the difference between Pizza by Alfredo and Alfredo’s Pizza Cafe.

AIPT Science is co-presented by AIPT and the New York City Skeptics.

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