A new study has shown that drinking hot tea or coffee provides antimicrobial properties and reduces the risk of carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the nasal passages. The results of the study published in the Annals of Family Medicine says that people who have hot beverages like coffee or tea are 50% less likely to have MRSA in the nasal passages when compared to people who do not have hot tea. The risk does not reduce with soft drinks and iced tea.
Eric Matheson, MD, an assistant professor of family medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, reports that the more tea or coffee they drank, the lower the risk of MRSA. These bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics and can cause illness when they come in contact with an open skin. The risk of illness and infection increases in people who have a weak immune system. The most fatal infections are noted in people who have acquired MRSA from hospitals.
Although the study shows that drinking hot coffee or tea is associated with lower chances of having MRSA it does not show a cause and effect relationship. According to Matheson, the next study should focus on the effects of coffee or tea on people who have MRSA. Some of the compounds in the tea or coffee may have antimicrobial properties which may help to weaken or destabilize the bacteria, adds Matheson. When the beverage is iced the compound loses its property as they are more soluble in higher temperatures. “It is also possible that these antimicrobial compounds are inhaled through the vapors of hot coffee or tea”, says Matheson.
For people who are working in the healthcare setting and do not have the habit of drinking tea or coffee, it would be better if they started using it, suggest researchers. According to Bruce Hirsch, MD, an infectious disease expert at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, this is a very interesting finding and should be explored further. He says that one cannot change the habits or recommend a change with this one finding. Philip Tierno, PhD, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City, is not very convinced with the effect of hot coffee and tea in reducing the number of MRSA. He agrees that tea and coffee has antimicrobial properties, but MRSA does not respond to antibiotics which has massive microbial properties.