Are you someone who loves to drink coffee? Or, are you among the group who simply doesn’t like coffee at all? Have you ever wondered why you like coffee but your sister, or mother, doesn’t? The answer could be in your genes!
Genealogy and genetics are becoming more and more connected. This is, in part, because we are now able to have our genetic material sent off for testing. The other reason has to do with the number of studies that have been done on genes, their functions, and their interconnections.
A study was led by the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers. They analyzed the genes of 120,000 people who were regular coffee drinkers. The data came from dozens of other studies that focused on people who regularly drank coffee.
As you might expect, the researchers found that certain gene variants appear to be responsible for whether or not a person ends up being a “coffee drinker”. This may explain why so many people absolutely love coffee, and also why many others don’t like coffee at all. A person either has the genes that correlate to enjoying coffee, or they do not.
Interestingly, the researchers didn’t find any gene variants that related to taste. In other words, someone might love the taste of coffee, but the reason her or she likes it is not due to the person’s genes. Instead, there are other factors that the genes seem to be responsible for.
The researchers identified two gene variations near genes BDNF and SLC6A4. Those variations are thought to play a role in the rewarding effects of caffeine. Other variations were near genes that had something to do with glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and addiction. The genes that the researchers identified were predominantly related to caffeine and its metabolism or effects caused by the caffeine.
They found that coffee drinkers were had a higher likelihood of having high blood sugar levels and high cholesterol. However, the same group was less likely to have high blood pressure than the people who never drink coffee had.
Another factor has to do with how many of the gene variations a person ended up with. Researchers found that study participants who inherited 5 or 6 of the gene variations were slightly more likely to be heavy coffee drinkers. What qualifies as “heavy”? It means they regularly consumed four or more cups of coffee per day. Those who inherited 1 or 2 variations were less likely to be heavy coffee drinkers.
Image by Chichacha on Flickr.
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