Hardwired: Do Coffee Habits Run in Our Genes?

is coffee love genetic?

Whether you love coffee or suspect that you might even be addicted to it, you’re not alone. What is more, it turns out that some of us are natural born coffee drinkers!

Some people can stop at one or two coffees per day, but others crave it, day and night. Your desire to drink coffee might have more to do with your genes than anyone had realized until now.

The Coffee Gene

Large-scale studies have found a link between a gene variant and how much coffee people consume.

The report was published in Scientific Reports. A research team studied more than 1,200 people living in Italy and discovered that those with the genetic variant described as PDSS2 typically drank one fewer cup of coffee daily compared to those subjects without the genetic variation.

Further investigation revealed that the gene variant seems to inhibit the body’s ability to break down caffeine. What does this mean? It means that people with PDSS2 need less caffeine to get the associated boost. Caffeine stays in their system for longer than is the case with non-PDSS2 people.

the coffee geneDo you find that you drink more coffee than the people around you?

It might be that you don’t have the PDSS2 variant.

There is evidence that people have been cultivating and drinking coffee since the 15th century, when it was first exported from Ethiopia to Yemen. Coffee is not only a pleasurable part of many people’s day in many countries around the globe, but it’s increasingly important too. When we look at the growing number of health benefits associated with coffee drinking, it’s natural to think that there might be a reason for coffee to be hardwired into our genes.

Check some of the potential health benefits of drinking coffee below.

Improvement to short term memory.

According to a study in the Nature Neuroscience journal, researchers at Michael Yassa’s lab at Johns Hopkins studied 60 people who each had a relatively low daily intake of caffeine.

On the first day, they were asked to look at 200 images. Afterward, the researchers gave them caffeine pills (or placebo pills).

The following day, the 60 subjects were asked to repeat the exercise from the day before. This time, however, they asked them to note which items were the same as the on the previous day, which were entirely new, and which of them were variations of previous images, for example, the same item in a different color or photographed from a different angle.

The results? The caffeinated subjects were better at spotting which images had been slightly altered on the second day. Caffeine seemed to enhance ‘pattern separation memory.’

One theory for this result is that the increased arousal or stimulation of caffeine leads to stronger, more long-term memories. This is certainly something to remember next time you’re studying for an exam!

Reduced risk of developing various mental and physical conditions.

Research into the health benefits of coffee is primarily a numbers game in the first instance. Then, scientists put their heads together to work out why certain results keep coming up.

>>> Researchers studied people in the US and determined that those who drank four cups of coffee per day were about a third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than non-coffee drinkers.

Before this, studies had already found that coffee drinkers were

>>> less likely to develop Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s than people who didn’t drink coffee.

Out of almost 180,000 Americans in yet another study, those who drank coffee every day were

>>> less likely to develop hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common kind of liver cancer, than people who did not drink coffee or who drank significantly less.

Similar studies have linked coffee drinking to

>>> reduced risk of melanoma, type 2 diabetes, and more.

Drinking coffee could even be good for your heart, because researchers have linked coffee consumption to a reduction of the risk of stroke. It’s possible that the chlorogenic acid in coffee cuts stroke risks as a consequence of lowering the chances of type 2 diabetes developing. The reasoning is unclear at this stage, but, as in other studies, the researchers have crunched the numbers and discovered that coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer from a stroke than non-coffee drinkers.

The discovery of PDSS2 is an exciting step towards understanding the genetic basis of coffee drinking. Research continues into all the ways that coffee interacts with our bodies and its effects.

It’s no wonder why people are so fascinated by this – it’s not often that something comes along that tastes great, makes you feel energized and is good for your body and mind, all at the same time.

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