Do Genetics Determine Whether Coffee Is Good or Bad for You?

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A new study published in Neuropsychopharmacology has found strong genetic links between coffee consumption and health outcomes such as obesity and substance use. The researchers used two large gene databases to identify health traits associated with coffee consumption. Although the research does not answer the enduring question of “Is coffee good or bad?”, it unearths some interesting connections. For instance, they found strong genetic links between coffee consumption and health outcomes like obesity and substance use. They also identified links to mental health conditions, although these were less straightforward.

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs globally, but links between coffee and health are still being examined. There is some evidence that moderate coffee intake is linked to a reduced risk of liver disease, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and neurodegenerative conditions. On the other hand, coffee may also be associated with the use and misuse of other substances and some cancers. Addressing the full spectrum of coffee’s correlations with health and disease is therefore an important but challenging task.

To investigate these relationships, scientists use genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which analyze participants’ whole genomes to identify gene variants associated with a given trait. In this case, they focus on single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and look for links between particular SNPs and the trait of interest, in this case, coffee consumption.

The latest study used genetic data from two large datasets: 23andMe from the United States and UK Biobank from the United Kingdom. Alongside genetic information, these datasets have information from questionnaires, including how much coffee they drink and distinguished between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. Lead author Hayley H. A. Thorpe, Ph.D., from the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University in Ontario, Canada, used this data to identify regions on the genome associated with whether someone is more or less likely to consume coffee and then identify the genes and biology that could underlie coffee intake.

The study examining the genetics of mental health, specifically anxiety, bipolar, and depression, found that coffee intake genetics were positively correlated with these conditions. However, the UK Biobank’s questionnaire showed a negative correlation, possibly due to the different questions asked about coffee consumption. The study also did not capture how coffee was consumed, as people in the UK are more likely to drink instant coffee, while ground coffee and frappuccinos with added sugar are more common in the U.S.

The genetics of traits and diseases can be influenced by various factors, including environmental and other associated diseases. While GWAS provide important information on potential associations between certain genes and traits and diseases, they are limited in their generalizability to the general population. Some diseases and traits are likely the product of many factors, including environmental and other associated diseases. Additionally, more than one gene may affect a single trait or disease.

The ultimate question is whether one’s coffee habit is healthy. Emily Leeming, Ph.D., a registered dietician, scientist, and author of Genius Gut: The Life-Changing Science of Eating for Your Second Brain, states that drinking a moderate amount of coffee is safe and healthy, with about 1–2 cups a day linked to better brain health and function. However, more than 6 or more cups of coffee daily is associated with a smaller brain volume and 53% greater odds of dementia.

Coffee contains polyphenols that feed the gut microbiome, and people who regularly drink coffee tend to have a more diverse, “healthy” gut microbiome than those who don’t. Thorpe believes more research is necessary and suggests checking in with healthcare providers because many factors, including medical history, influence how much caffeine intake is safe for an individual.

Leeming also cautions that individuals with sensitive stomach or gut issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, might not benefit from coffee. Coffee can also speed up food movement through the gut, making them urgently dash to the bathroom or making them uncomfortably jittery.

Overall, the health benefits and risks of coffee are still under scrutiny, and the pros and cons may vary from person to person. Thanks to coffee’s near ubiquity, more research is sure to follow.

Read More @ Medical News Today

Source: Coffee Talk

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