Protect Yourself from “Superbug” Infections by Drinking Coffee

Hey Everyone,

So I imagine that most of us have taken antibiotics or similar drugs at one point in our lives to treat an infection and did not really think anything of it.  We get prescribed the drug, take it, and get better. Our society has been doing this since the 1940s, and it greatly reduces illness and death from infectious diseases.  Now, however, the communicable organisms are fighting back!

Since these drugs have been used so widely and for so long, infectious organisms are adapting to the antibiotics and making the drugs less effective.  Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is one of these “superbugs."  This year in the United States, more people will die from MRSA infections than from the swine flu (H1N1 virus) or AIDS.  The Journal of the American Medicine Association estimates that 18,000 Americans die each year from MRSA infections.

What is MRSA?

MRSA is a deadly strain of staph bacteria that does not respond to certain antibiotics that are commonly used to treat staph infections.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), people are the most common source of MRSA and the most common way to spread MRSA infections is from hand-to-hand contact.  The nose and skin are common areas where a person can carry the bacteria.

About 2 out of every 100 people carry this strain of staph that is resistant to antibiotics, leaving the person unable to treat and cure this dangerous infection.  MRSA starts with skin boils, then spreads to infect organs and bones.  The infections tend to be more severe when patients get MRSA in health care facilities.  These staph infections may be in the bloodstream, heart or lungs, urine, or at the site of a recent surgery.

MRSA is much more resistant to the antibiotics methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin, amoxicillin, and cephalosporins.  Some strains of MRSA are now becoming resistant to vancomycin, one of the best "last resort" antibiotics.  Vancomycin has traditionally been used for serious and life-threatening infections that are not responsive to more common antibiotics.  MRSA is constantly becoming more resistant to more and more antibiotics, and it is just a matter of time before all antibiotics are useless in our fight against these “superbugs”.


Coffee and MRSA

A startling statistic states that 2.5 million people have evidence of MRSA inside their noses!  Scary, huh?  Well before you fully start freaking out and wondering if you are one of those people, know that drinking hot tea or coffee significantly reduces your risk of being a carrier.

A recent study conducted by the Annals of Family Medicine found that Americans who drank hot tea or coffee had a 50% lower chance of carrying MRSA bacteria within the nasal passages compared to those who did not drink hot tea or coffee.  Drinking both has a 67% reduction rate of having MRSA.  Additionally, the more coffee or tea participants drank, the lower their risk for MRSA.

How Does Coffee Reduce the Risk of MRSA?

The possible effects of coffee and tea consumption on MRSA carriage are still not completely understood.  However, this adds to the increasing evidence to suggest that both coffee and tea have antimicrobial characteristics.  It is also important to note that this protective effect seems to only apply when people drink hot tea and coffee, not iced, which means the antimicrobial compounds of the coffee and tea may reach the nose in vapor form.  More similar studies need to be performed to draw any firm conclusions about possible antimicrobial effects of tea and coffee, but so far the evidence looks good.

Lead researcher Dr. Eric Matheson stated, “Our findings of reduced odds of MRSA nasal carriage among tea and coffee drinkers raise the possibility of a promising new method to decrease MRSA nasal carriage that is safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible.”

Now enjoy a cup of coffee!  After all, you may be fighting dangerous infections while you do.


Here is Dr. Eric Matheson’s study, Tea and Coffee Consumption and MRSA Nasal Carriage, if you would like to read more about it.