Science: Why I <3 Coffee?

A quick coffee post seems like a good way to start a Monday.

Yay! Another personal bad habit that I can blame on genetics that may potentially be explained by science!

Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune reprinted an article by an LA Times reporter, Karen Kaplan about a press release entitled “Genetic variants associated with caffeine intake identified”.*

From the LA Times article:

A team of researchers from Harvard, the National Cancer Institute and other esteemed institutions of biological science reports that our need for caffeine is in our DNA.

As if there were any part of our lives that weren’t subject to genetics in some form or fashion.

But back to the so-called caffeine genes. There are two of them, according to a report published Tuesday in PLoS Genetics. The first is CYP1A2, which had already been known to have something to do with caffeine metabolism, and the second is AHR, which plays a role in regulating CYP1A2.

Everyone has both of these genes, of course, but we don’t all have the exact same kinds. Those in the study who had the most caffeine-seeking version of CYP1A2 drank an average of 38 milligrams more of the stuff each day than those with the most caffeine-indifferent version. People with the most caffeine-dependent version of the AHR gene consumed an average of 44 mg. more per day than their counterparts with the least caffeine-seeking version.

That works out to about the same amount of caffeine as is found in a single can of Coke or Pepsi or in a cup of tea.

Which reminds me…Need. Moar. Coffee!

The original paper has a really long, sciency name** and was e-published in PLoS Genetics on April 7th, 2011.

**Oh fine, if you really want to know: Genome-Wide Meta-Analysis Identifies Regions on 7p21 (AHR) and 15q24 (CYP1A2) As Determinants of Habitual Caffeine Consumption.

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