For some, three double espressos is barely enough to get them out of bed; for others, the whiff of weak latte is enough to have them jittering. Now, it turns out that those differing reactions are genetic.
New research reveals six new genetic variants that are associated with coffee consumption—brining the total to eight that are known. The researchers claims that the genetic variants explains why some people react so markedly to coffee while others can swill it all day long. Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, it all, ultimately, comes down to caffeine.
The study saw the researchers probe 2.5 million genetic variants, from over 120,000 women and men. Tying together genetic analysis with the participants' coffee drinking, they discovered that the differences between habits neatly aligned with genes that are already known to be related to our reaction to caffeine. Some genes variants, for instance, appear to reward caffeine intake, while others metabolize it faster or slower—both giving rise to different behaviours and reactions in coffee drinkers.
While the finding may not be hugely surprising, they should prove useful. Pinpointing a genetic link to caffeine reaction could allows 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. Whether you'll want to listen to it? Well that's another issue entirely. [Molecular Psychiatry via Verge]
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