As a caffeine addict, I am always thrilled to find new ways in which coffee is a health food. For some reason, these seem to be proliferating lately. Recent studies have linked coffee to a lower risk of prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease, Type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, cirrhosis and gallstone disease.
Now, a new study finds another surprising benefit. According to research in the Annals of Family Medicine, drinking coffee (and also tea, by the way) may help reduce the antibiotic resistant bacteria that healthy people carry in their noses.
The researchers found that people who drank coffee and tea had were 50 percent less likely to carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). You can be healthy and have this bacteria in your nose; it only becomes a threat when it enters your blood stream though a break in the skin. A person with MRSA in his nose can also infect someone else.
It's not clear what's behind this benefit. Coffee and tea may boost the immune system, the study's authors say. MRSA is a major public health issue at the moment; about 2.5 million people carry it. If coffee or tea could cut down on the number of carriers, that would be a huge benefit.
More studies will determine whether coffee really is a miracle drink. In the meantime, enjoy that latte guilt free.