Monday, July 18, 2011

Good news for tea and coffee drinkers

It's amazing how many times there is a story in the news at the same time we cover the topic in class.

In the news at the moment is the interesting story that coffee and tea drinkers could be at lower risk of a developing a deadly drug-resistant staph infection.

As part of the 2003-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), more than 5,000 Americans from across the country were tested for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — better known by its abbreviation, MRSA — in the nasal cavity. Although carrying MRSA in the nose is not at all dangerous by itself, some studies show that nasal colonization may put people at higher risk of systemic MRSA infection throughout the body, and that can be fatal.

The results of the NHANES testing, published in the July/August issue of the journal Annals of Family Medicine, showed that 1.4% of the nationally representative survey participants had nasal MRSA carriage. However, people who drank coffee or hot tea at least once a month were only about half as likely to be infected as those who did not — even after adjusting for age, race, sex, recent antibiotic use and hospitalization history, and a few other variables.

Coffee and tea drinkers saw advantages of about the same magnitude, no matter which drink they favored. The study authors say they cannot be sure why people drinking tea or coffee might be less likely to have nasal MRSA carriage, but that it could be the result of antimicrobial compounds known to exist in the beverages.

The actual research paper in the Annals of Family Medicine, Tea and Coffee Consumption and MRSA Nasal Carriage, is very readable. It's also interesting to see that statistic that 1.4% of people had nasal MRSA. Given that about 25% of people are carriers of S.aureus (actually 28% in this study) it means that about 1 in 17 of those carriers had the MRSA strain.

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