Espresso or latte? It’s all in your genes.

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Ever wondered why you can knock back three cups of coffee in one go while your other half can never drink more than one? A study carried out by Harvard School of Public Health, in conjunction with Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers, could hold the answers. The study involved analysing the coffee drinking habits of 120,000 participants and was able to isolate six genetic variants.

The six included two genes involved in the way we metabolise coffee, POR and ABCG2. Two others, BDNF and SLC6A4, could have an effect on how rewarding we find caffeine. The final two, GCKR and MLXIPL, were known to have an impact on how we metabolise glucose and lipids, but hadn’t previously been associated with the metabolism of caffeine.

The findings of the study suggest that we automatically moderate our caffeine intake to experience the fullest effect. Marilyn Cornelius, the lead author of the study and a research associate at Harvard School of Public Health, said that the research may allow for the identification of groups likely to receive health benefits from increasing or reducing their caffeine consumption.  Marilyn Cornelius’ colleague Daniel Chasman, senior author on the study and associate professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital said the research was interesting as an example of how genetics can influence behaviour such as caffeine consumption, and similar patterns could be seen with alcohol and smoking.

So the next time that you think you can’t get through the morning without a large cup of coffee, remember it could be your genes to blame!

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