Turns out, those people waiting in the incredibly long Starbucks lines are not only getting their caffeine fix, but possibly also warding off staph infection-causing bacterium.
A new government study published in the Annals of Family Medicine showed that those who drink hot tea or coffee are about twice as likely as non-drinkers to ward off methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, in their nostrils.
The study found that an estimated 2.5 million individuals are MRSA nasal carriers.
Hot tea and coffee have been found to have antimicrobial properties, wrote lead researcher Eric Matheson of the University of South Carolina. Consumption of hot tea or coffee is associated with a lower likelihood of MRSA nasal carriage.
More than 5,500 Americans were sampled in the government study.
Generally, about one percent of the U.S. population carries MRSA in the nose or on the skin, but fails to get sick. Matheson's team found that tea and coffee drinkers were less likely to carry MRSA. Less research has been done on coffee compounds, but there is some evidence of anti-bacteria.
MRSA, a staph infection-causing bacterium that is resistant to common antibiotics, is potentially lethal, causing pneumonia and blood infections.
The study was provoked after topically applied or inhaled tea extracts showed anti-MRSA properties, Matheson told Fox News.
Of the random sample taken, 1.4 percent was found to carry MRSA in their noses; this number decreased by 50 percent among people who said they drink coffee or tea.
According to Matheson, You can never conclude causation from an association, but added, I can't tell you that this finding isn't just a coincidence, as several factors, including age and income, were not accounted for.
Still, when researchers tried to account for these factors, there still seemed to be a more than tenuous relationship between drinking hot tea and coffee and lower rates of MRSA. It is unclear whether carriers of MRSA are more likely to progress to active infection than non-carriers.
MRSA caused approximately 95,000 severe infections nationwide in 2005 and 19,000 Americans lost their lives to it. Furthermore, rates of infection have been rising since the 1990s.