Scientists identified a gene that affects the breakdown of caffeine in the human body. The caffeine in coffee acts as a mild stimulant to the central nervous system. Studies have shown that, depending on the level of intake, caffeine can help to improve mental performance, especially on alertness, attention and concentration. Moderate coffee consumption may actually be good for you. It may reduce chronic disease. So, why is there so much contradictory evidence about coffee? The answer may be in our genes. The amount of coffee consumption affects human beings in different ways. Some people try to stay away from drinking coffee because it makes them nervous and anxious. Others can drink four cups of coffee and can barely stay awake. There are also individuals who live off of coffee. Professor Ahmed- El-Sohemy, from the University of Toronto assumed coffee and heart disease may vary from each individual. He concentrated on a particular gene known as CYP1A2 which controls the activity of an enzyme also called CYP1A2, which determines how fast our bodies break down caffeine. There are two variations of the CYP1A2 gene where one allows people to break down caffeine four times faster than individuals with the slower variant of the CYP1A2 gene.
Dr. El-Sohemy did a research test on 4,000 adults analyzing their genes and their coffee consumption. He discovered that consuming four or more cups of coffee per day was associated with a thirty-six percent increased risk of a heart attack for slow metabolizers. Compared to the fast metabolizers, there was completely no increased risk. The individuals who were fast metabolizers that drank one to three cups of coffee daily had a reduced risk of heart attacks. This may be because caffeine stays around longer in a slow metabolizer, so it has more time to cause heart attacks. Fast metabolizers are constantly clearing the caffeine from their systems.
This was so interesting to me. Researchers have just started to understand how our genes and coffee habits relate. The connection between coffee and genetics has opened up a wide new area of research, which is great. Scientists are now researching if the CYP1A2 gene might resolve coffee’s effect on breast and ovarian cancer, Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. A company called FitnessGenes studies forty-one different genes related to nutrition and exercise including the gene CYP1A2. It is said that forty percent of people are fast metabolizers, about forty-five percent have both a slow and a fast copy, and fifteen percent of people are slow metabolizers. Do you think you are a fast metabolizer, slow metabolizer or have both the slow and fast copy?