Nearly 2.5 million people in the United States show signs of harboring MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a potentially deadly bacterium, inside their noses. New research published in the Annals of Family Medicine supports the conclusion that coffee and tea have antimicrobial properties and that drinking hot coffee or tea can reduce the risk of carrying MRSA bacteria within the nasal passages and thus of spreading the infection to other parts of the body and other people.
In the published study, people who drank hot coffee or hot tea were 50% less likely to have MRSA in their nose, compared with people who did not drink these beverages.
The more coffee or tea participants drank, the lower their risk for harboring MRSA, explained Eric Matheson, MD, author of the study and Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
When confined to the nasal passages, MRSA is usually asymptomatic. But MRSA often causes illness when it contacts an open skin wound. And, because MRSA bacteria are often resistant to antibiotics, hospital-acquired MRSA accounts for many fatal infections.
Remember that caffeine evolved as a chemical produced by plants to kill microbes and insect parasites. Therefore, caffeine has powerful antimicrobial powers that are probably responsible of the ability of coffee and tea to staunch the MRSA infection.
“These antimicrobial properties that can possibly destabilize and weaken this superbug,” said Matheson. “Some of these antimicrobial compounds may be destroyed when they are iced, as they are more soluble at higher temperatures,” he said. In addition, compounds are breathed in via the vapors from piping hot cups of coffee or tea.