Coffee

More interesting news to ponder over a cup of coffee: new research shows that coffee and tea drinkers have lower levels of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their noses than non-coffee or tea drinkers.

While antioxidants in tea have long deemed it a healthy alternative to coffee, the roasted bean has seen a surprising upturn in its own right, with recent research linking it to lower risks of Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and even certain types of cancer. Now, a new study, published in the current issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, says coffee (and tea), can reduce the risk of the notoriously antibiotic resistant and often deadly bacteria: methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The study researchers took nasal swabs to look for MRSA, and questioned participants about their beverage consumption. Chilled or iced tea and coffees did not lower their risks, leading the researchers to identify the antimicrobial effect as coming from the steam of hot coffee or tea.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA is the most common drug-resistant strain of bacteria, rampant in America’s hospitals and responsible for roughly 15,000 deaths per year and sickening another 90,000.

Healthy people carry MRSA in their noses without infection, but colonization can spread to other individuals or infect its host through open wounds in the skin, making it a risk for a hard to treat infection once contaminated. But, according to the study conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina at Charleston, half of coffee and tea drinkers had significantly lower MRSA levels than those who abstained.

In addition to the possibility that coffee or tea steam inhaled through the nose decreases MRSA levels, both beverages also decrease iron absorption, which MRSA needs for growth. Coffee and tea may also boost the immune system function and disrupt MRSA cells, preventing them from colonizing in the nose.

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Photo: Jill Ettinger