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Love Coffee? It May Not Be All That Good For You

posted on 7/18/2016 Facebook Facebook

For many amongst us, the delectable taste and the unmistakable smell of coffee is enough to pry us out of our beds every morning. Coffee is the most widely consumed hot beverage in the world and an estimated 90% of all adults consume caffeine daily. While we derive most of our caffeine satisfaction through coffee, it is also present in tea, chocolate (dark variety), energy drinks, carbonated drink, and supplements etc. According to the latest coffee statistics from the International Coffee Organization (ICO), we pour about 1.4 billion cups of coffee a day worldwide. From lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to brightening mood and helping us stay productive, the health perks of java are widely known. 

Our increasing dependence on the beverage is quite noteworthy and is now considered as a strong indicator in determining health outcome. As little as 100 mg of caffeine a day, the amount in an average cup of coffee is enough to foster caffeine addiction in some people. However, the reaction to caffeine is subjective to a particular individual. For some, three double espressos are barely enough to even get them out of bed; for others, the whiff of weak latte is enough to have them jittering. Every individual reacts and responds to caffeine differently, and as it turns out these reactions are genetic. 

Genes & Caffeine Metabolism
How we react to coffee can largely be attributed to differences in how efficiently we metabolize caffeine and variations in the genes that control that metabolism. One is the CYP1A2 gene that encodes for a liver enzyme critical for the metabolism of caffeine. Another is the AHR gene, which controls when and how the CYP1A2 gene is switched on and off. Unfortunately, about 50% of the population has a variant in the CYP1A2 gene that leads to slow processing of caffeine and these people are called as ‘slow metabolizers’. 

For these so-called slow metabolizers, drinking too much coffee can:
1. Increase their risk of heart disease, particularly a heart attack: Slow metabolizers are at an elevated risk of suffering from a heart attack if they consume 2 or more cups of coffee as reported by a study which was published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). 
2. Increase their risk of high blood pressure or hypertension
3. Increase risk of type 2 diabetes by impairing the regulation of glucose metabolism

A study published in 2014 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry reported that variations in the genes POR and ABCG2 (encodes proteins involved in caffeine metabolism) also influences the way our bodies process coffee. The researchers found that those who drank more coffee were more likely to have certain variants in these genes. Pinpointing a genetic link to caffeine reaction could allow medics and nutritionists to more accurately identify who can and can''t cope with the stimulant in their diet—and provide advice accordingly to target benefits and minimize health risk.

References:
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2. Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, Cornelis MC, Byrne EM, et al. Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies six novel loci associated with habitual coffee consumption. Molecular psychiatry. 2015;20(5):647-656. doi:10.1038/mp.2014.107.
3. Josse AR, Da Costa LA, Campos H, El-Sohemy A. Associations between polymorphisms in the AHR and CYP1A1-CYP1A2 gene regions and habitual caffeine consumption. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):665-71. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.038794. Epub 2012 Aug 1. PubMed PMID: 22854411.
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5. Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2006 Mar 8;295(10):1135-41. PubMed PMID:16522833.
6. Palatini P, Ceolotto G, Ragazzo F, Dorigatti F, Saladini F, Papparella I, Mos L, Zanata G, Santonastaso M. CYP1A2 genotype modifies the association between coffee intake and the risk of hypertension. J Hypertens. 2009 Aug;27(8):1594-601.doi: 10.1097/HJH.0b013e32832ba850. PubMed PMID: 19451835.
7. Palatini P, Benetti E, Mos L, Garavelli G, Mazzer A, Cozzio S, Fania C, Casiglia E. Association of coffee consumption and CYP1A2 polymorphism with risk of impaired fasting glucose in hypertensive patients. Eur J Epidemiol. 2015 Mar;30(3):209-17. doi: 10.1007/s10654-015-9990-z. Epub 2015 Jan 17. PubMed PMID: 25595320.

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