Friday, July 15, 2011

Could tea and coffee protect against MRSA? Study shows drinkers half as likely to carry the superbug

This is pretty wacky. Who does NOT drink tea or coffee? Are the non-drinkers below people who are big users of illegal drugs perhaps? Is that what gives them more MRSA? No wonder the authors advise caution about the results

People who regularly drink tea or coffee may be less likely to be carriers of the 'superbug' MRSA, according to a U.S. study.

Out of more than 5,500 Americans who took part in a government study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, those who drank hot tea or coffee were about half as likely as non-drinkers to contract methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in their nostrils.

But exactly what the information means is still unclear, say researchers. 'Hot tea and coffee have been found to have antimicrobial properties,' wrote lead researcher Eric Matheson, of the University of South Carolina, Charleston. 'Consumption of hot tea or coffee is associated with a lower likelihood of MRSA nasal carriage.

In general, about 1 percent of the U.S. population carries MRSA in the nose or on the skin, but does not get sick.

The idea for the study came from the fact that, in both the lab dish and in humans, topically applied or inhaled tea extracts have shown some anti-MRSA activity, Matheson said. Less research has been done on coffee compounds, but there is some evidence of antibacterial powers there as well.

Matheson's team found that, indeed, tea and coffee drinkers were less likely to carry MRSA. Overall, 1.4 percent of the study group harbored the bacteria in their noses. But those odds were about 50 per cent lower among people who said they drank hot tea or coffee, versus non-drinkers.

The big caveat, though, is that the link does not prove that tea or coffee are the reason for the lower risk, Matheson said.

The study shows an association between the two, 'but you never can conclude causation from an association. I can't tell you that this finding isn't just a coincidence,' he said.

The researchers tried to account for several other factors, such as age, income or self-rated health, but the beverages were still linked to lower odds of being a MRSA carrier. 'Our findings raise the possibility of a promising new method to decrease MRSA nasal carriage that is safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible,' Matheson wrote.

One issue is that even if coffee and tea drinkers do have a lower risk of carrying MRSA, whether that makes them less likely to actually fall ill is unknown.

Matheson said there is also still debate about whether MRSA carriers are at increased risk of developing an active infection.

For now, Matheson stops short of recommending that people start drinking coffee or tea in the hopes of fending off MRSA. 'Based on one association study, that would probably be too much,' he concluded.


Amazing turnaround: British doctors want more homebirths

Maybe I have a suspicious mind but I think I know why. They just want to reduce their workload. As public servants, they get paid regardless

Women should no longer assume they will give birth in hospital with a doctor on hand. In a watershed moment, leading medical experts declared that mothers should be given more opportunity to have babies at home because a maternity ward is not necessarily the 'safer option'.

A report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists suggests that as many as a third of all women should give birth 'without a doctor going anywhere near them'.

It calls for a radical shake-up in the NHS which could lead to thousands more women having babies at home, as was the case 50 years ago.

In 1959, more than a third of women gave birth at home but by 1988 this had fallen to a low of 0.9 per cent. By last year this had risen only slightly to 2.4 per cent, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

The report states that only women most at risk of suffering complications – such as those expecting twins or triplets, the obese, diabetics or those in their 40s – should have to give birth in hospital.

In addition it calls for dozens of maternity wards in smaller hospitals to be closed or merged into 'super units' to ensure those most likely to suffer complications receive the best care.

It warns that currently there are too many maternity units but not enough top-level consultants able to intervene should there be problems during the birth.

Often they are looked after by junior doctors with limited experience, particularly at nights and weekends when there are fewer staff on duty.

There are also concerns that maternity wards are becoming increasingly less safe because a shortage of midwives has left them at breaking point.

The report says that expectant mothers who are unlikely to need an emergency caesarean or suffer life-threatening complications such as pre-eclampsia should be offered the chance to have their babies in local birthing units or in their own homes.

At present, just three per cent of women give birth at home. A further seven per cent use midwife-led units – which are small centres designed to provide a more homely environment than hospitals.

Senior health experts warn that the present system is 'not acceptable, nor sustainable'. The number of women going into labour every year is a fifth higher compared with a decade ago.

And higher proportions are suffering complicated labours due to rising levels of obesity and women delaying motherhood until their late 30s and 40s.

Anthony Falconer, president of the RCOG, said: 'Too many babies are born in the traditional "hospital" setting'. He added: 'There is a perception among patients that they still see the hospital birth as the safer option. The use of some of these midwife-led units is not as great as it should be. These places are very safe and appropriate to have babies.'

Dr Falconer said: 'Roughly a third of women need a doctor, roughly a third need midwives and roughly a third might need both.'

David Richmond, vice president of the RCOG who wrote the report, said that most women could have their babies in a local birthing centre 'without a doctor going anywhere near them'.

'Do they need to be in an institution that can do MRI scans and renal transplants and brain surgery? Probably not. So we need to have this network of care where the woman is guided to the right part of the network to receive her care.'

Earlier this year the Royal College of Midwives warned that maternity units were 'at breaking point' due to a shortage of around 3,500 midwives.

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM warned that unless staffing levels were drastically increased women and their newborns would be put at risk.

In response to the report she said: 'It clearly supports local care for women who do not need specialist support and supports midwife-led maternity units, informed choice for women about options for childbirth, and women-centred care models. The RCM thoroughly supports and endorses all these aspects of the report.'

But campaigners warned that putting pressure on women to have their babies in local birth centres could also put them in danger. They also pointed out that as these centres don't administer epidurals – strong pain-relieving injections – women would be forced to suffer unnecessarily.

Maureen Treadwell of the Birth Trauma Association said: 'The problem with maternity care at the moment is that women can appear low risk at the start and develop horrendous problems during the birth.'

She also warned home births could become an expensive business for the Health Service. She said: 'If a woman wants a home birth, she will need two midwives and an ambulance – and there simply won't be enough resources for this to happen on a large scale.

Last November a damning report by senior midwives said mothers and newborn babies were being put at risk by cuts to maternity services. It found that at least one in three labour wards were being forced to axe staff as part of belt-tightening.


No comments: