Do tea, coffee drinkers have lower risk of MRSA superbug?

Thu Jul 14, 2011 1:08pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - People who regularly drink tea or coffee may be less likely to be carriers of the "superbug" MRSA, according to a U.S. study.

Out of more than 5,500 Americans who took part in a government study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, those who drank hot tea or coffee were about half as likely as non-drinkers to harbor methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in their nostrils.

But exactly what it means is still unclear.

"Hot tea and coffee have been found to have antimicrobial properties," wrote lead researcher Eric Matheson, of the University of South Carolina, Charleston.

"Consumption of hot tea or coffee is associated with a lower likelihood of MRSA nasal carriage."

In general, about 1 percent of the U.S. population carries MRSA in the nose or on the skin, but does not get sick.

The idea for the study came from the fact that, in both the lab dish and in humans, topically applied or inhaled tea extracts have shown some anti-MRSA activity, Matheson said.

Less research has been done on coffee compounds, but there is some evidence of antibacterial powers there as well.

Matheson's team found that, indeed, tea and coffee drinkers were less likely to carry MRSA.   Continued...

<p>Sener Soenmez from Hamburg makes a cappuccino during the finals of the German Barista Championships in Hamburg April 17, 2011. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen</p>