Caffeine In The Genetic Code

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 17 2014 @ 8:12am

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Andrew Giambrone flags new research on why you might be craving that cup of coffee this morning:

By analyzing DNA as well as data on 120,000 adults of European and African-American heritage, the researchers identified eight genetic variants that predispose individuals to seek out and drink caffeine. “Our results show that people are naturally consuming the amount of coffee that allows them to maintain their optimal level of caffeine” to get that good caffeine feeling without becoming jittery, Cornelis told me. “If we need more, we’re reaching for it.”

Six of the genetic variants examined in the study were newly discovered by the researchers. According to Cornelis, individuals whose DNA expressed all the variants tended to drink around half a cup of coffee more than those without them. Additionally, the new genes can explain about 1.3 percent of all coffee-drinking behavior, or about the same amount that genes can explain other habits, like smoking and alcohol consumption. While those effects may seem small, Cornelis said the study sheds light on why individuals’ bodies and brains react differently to caffeineand how some people feel anxious after a single cup of coffee, whereas others can down a Starbucks Venti and feel just fine.

(Photo by Flickr user Alan)