June 29, 2017
Are You A Coffee Addict? Science Lets You Blame Your DNA!

Coffee addicts rejoice! No more must you suffer those disapproving looks from co-workers as you make your fifth trip to the coffee pot. Never again can your spouse complain when you order a quad-shot venti at Starbucks. Now you've got DNA on your side.

A huge DNA study by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that your genes may play a role in your coffee cravings. While the effect is minimal, variations in your DNA could impact the effect of coffee on your health.

According to the Associated Press, the project analyzed the results of about two dozen previous DNA studies with a combined total of more than 120,000 coffee drinkers of European and African American ancestry. Participants underwent thorough DNA scanning and indicated to researchers the amount of coffee they drink each day. Scientists looked for tiny differences in their DNA that were associated with drinking more or less coffee.There are two genetic variants involved in metabolizing caffeine, two that potentially play a role in the rewarding effects of caffeine and two others involved in the interaction of fats and sugars in the bloodstream, the researchers said in a paper released today by the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The two other newly implicated genes were a surprise because there's no clear biological link to coffee or caffeine, said Marilyn Cornelis of the Harvard School of Public Health. She led the research. They are instead involved with cholesterol levels and blood sugar.

Coffee contains caffeine, the world's most widely used drug, which has been linked to improvements in memory and protection against the destruction of brain cells. It can also lead to nervousness, anxiety, restlessness and gastrointestinal upset.

Marian Neuhouser, a nutrition researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and study co-author, said identifying genes related to consumption may one day help doctors identify patients who need extra help in cutting down on coffee if recommended. For example, pregnant women are advised to consume only moderate amounts of caffeine because of risk of miscarriage and preterm birth, she said.

One of the next steps for scientists is to use the genetic variations found in the latest DNA study to better understand the health outcomes on an individual basis from coffee and caffeine consumption, Cornelis said in a telephone interview.

None of the identified genetic variants was related to how intensely a person tastes coffee, and Cornelis said that surprised her.

She doesn't drink coffee, she said, because she can't stand the stuff. I wonder if it's in her DNA?

Are you a coffee addict? How many cups do you drink each day?