Could drinking coffee or tea lower your risk of MRSA? Study shows mixed reviews

Could coffee and tea play a role in reducing MRSA? Study shows mixed reviews, but an interview with study researcher Eric Matheson reveals more.
Written by Stacy Lipson, Contributor

Hooked on your coffee or tea? New research from Annals of Family Medicine shows that coffee and tea consumption could play a role in the reduction of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the nostrils. To learn more about this study, I reached out to Eric Matheson, study researcher in the department of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. Matheson explained the results behind the study for SmartPlanet. Below is an excerpt of our conversation.

SP: As a researcher, what did you discover during the course of your study?

We found that consumption of coffee and tea was associated with a decrease in the odds of MRSA nasal carriage of more than 50%.

SP: What's the link between tea and coffee and MRSA?

While association is not causation, this study suggests that the consumption of coffee and tea may decrease the risk of MRSA nasal carriage.

How can regularly drinking tea or coffee play a role in MRSA?

At this point, we can't yet make any definitive statements regarding the relationship between coffee or tea consumption and MRSA. However, previous in vitro studies have shown that both coffee and tea have antibacterial properties.

SP: Is there an amount of tea or coffee that played a role in MRSA nasal carriage?

We were unable to determine the amount of tea or coffee that was associated with the largest decrease in MRSA nasal carriage.

SP: What factors did you account for in the course of this study? Should we be concerned about MRSA?

We accounted for other risk factors that may contribute to MRSA nasal carraige including recent hospitalization, age, race, gender, income, use of antibiotics, and current health status (i.e. good, fair, poor, etc). The average consumer should be most concerned with the rapid increase in antibiotic resistance by a number of bacteria, but particularly MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus). Due to a lack of financial incentives, very little research has been conducted to develop new antibiotics in the past several decades. As a result, we need to find other novel strategies to decrease antibiotic resistance.

Note to readers: This study examined research from the 2003-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. According to the published report, the study sample included a sample size of over 5,500 participants.

Image: Flickr via clumsy_juggler

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards