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Coffee, Tea May Keep You MRSA-free—at Least Your Nose Anyway

Did you know that about 2.5 percent of us carry the antibiotic resistant “superbug” MRSA in our noses all the time? While medical experts aren’t sure if its presence there is harmful, a new study may have uncovered a way to rid your nose of this hitchhiker.

Researchers have found that those who drink hot coffee or tea were about half as likely to have MRSA in their nasal passages as people who drank no hot tea or coffee. No such association was found in drinking iced tea or soda. The study notes that coffee and tea have been shown to have antimicrobial effects in other settings.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a particularly nasty pathogen that has developed a resistance to the antibiotic methicillin, one of our main lines of defense against such bacteria. The bacteria can cause infection when they enter the body through a cut, sore, catheter, or breathing tube. The infection can be minor and local such as a bug bite, or more serious involving the heart, lung, blood, or bone.

When MRSA infections do occur, it is typically through one of two scenarios:

  • Community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) infections occur in otherwise healthy people who have not recently been in the hospital. The infections have occurred among athletes who share equipment or personal items (such as towels or razors) and children in daycare facilities. Members of the military and those who get tattoos are also at risk. The number of CA-MRSA cases is increasing.
  • Healthcare-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) infections occur in people who are or have recently been in a hospital or other healthcare facility. Those who have been hospitalized or had surgery within the past year are at increased risk. MRSA bacteria are responsible for a large percentage of hospital-acquired staph infections. The rate of MRSA infections in healthcare facilities has been climbing steadily in recent years.

The study suggested that further research is warranted before we consider using coffee and tea to combat MRSA infections system-wide. In the meantime, enjoy your next cup of tea or joe knowing it just might keep your own nose MRSA-free.


CBS News

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institutes of Health: National Library of Medicine


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