Should I Drink Coffee? How DNA Influences Coffee Consumption

Some people really love coffee, while others really can’t seem to stand it. Recent studies have attributed the preference of this beverage to genes. After the genetic information of people from European and African American descent who drank coffee was analyzed, it was discovered that there are eight genetic markers associated with coffee drinking habits. Six of these were new discoveries.

Caffeine, the addictive substance in coffee, usually has different effects on different people, and this is because of the genetic variants of genes found in their DNA. Your ability to drink coffee is derived from which markers are present in your DNA. These markers affect how the body breaks down or metabolizes caffeine, thus affecting how much coffee one is more likely to consume in a day.

Bigger coffee drinkers tend to have more or all of the gene variants associated with coffee drinking habits. One of these variants is very close to the BDNF gene. This gene is linked to the level of excitement one feels after having a cup of coffee, and having less of this gene will cause one to drink more coffee. Another gene variant was the SLC6A4. This gene is associated with the formation of the protein that transports serotonin through the body, the mood stabilizing hormone. Two of the newly discovered genes- POR and ABCG2- are directly involved with the metabolism of caffeine. People who drink a lot of coffee seem to have all these gene variants in their DNA.

Those who don’t drink as much coffee tend to have a variant of the PDSS2 gene. This gene causes the body to metabolize caffeine much slower. When caffeine isn’t metabolized quickly in your body, you tend to feel the ‘hit’ for a longer period of time and much quicker than other people.

Coffee has been linked to a number of health effects, both positive and negative. It has been linked with the protection against Parkinson’s and Type 2 diabetes, and also a reduced risk of having depression and hypertension. However, these positive effects are not for the general population. People who have a higher propensity to drinking coffee are more likely to experience these health benefits. However, it’s also said that they have a higher chance of having high blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This is because two of the markers associated with sugar and fat breakdown have been found in the DNA of heavy coffee drinkers. One of these variants is said to be linked to the brain’s sensitivity to glucose, thus affecting how it also responds to caffeine. On the other hand, people who metabolize caffeine slower have a higher chance of getting heart diseases if they regularly consume coffee. This is because the caffeine will stay in the body longer, thus affecting the heart rate of the individual.

In conclusion, your DNA can tell you whether you should drink coffee or not. Scientists are hopeful that with time, they will be able to narrow down the research to who is more and less likely to benefit from consuming coffee.

So go get yourself a DNA home test kit, send your samples to a lab and wait for the results to tell you whether it’s safe for you to consume coffee.

  • Updated September 9, 2017
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