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article imageIs a taste for Java in the genes?

By Tim Sandle     Oct 12, 2014 in Science
Why do some people drink more coffee than others? The answer could lie with genetic differences, according to a new study.
New research suggests that genetic differences that affect caffeine metabolism, as well as sugar and fat metabolism and brain chemistry, could lead some people to consume more coffee than others.
To reach this conclusion, scientists used single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) information from more than 120,000 people. An SNP is a DNA sequence variation occurring commonly within a population. Using this information, the scientists confirmed two known variants linked with coffee drinking and identify six new loci associated with the behavior (loci is a term for the specific location of a gene, DNA sequence, or position on a chromosome).
Two of the regions have been detected previously, and the study serves to confirm the relationship with coffee drinking. These were the regions close to the genes CYP1A2, whose product metabolizes caffeine, and AHR, which regulates CYP1A2. The six new regions warrant further study. One of these, GCKR is involved in glucose sensing in the brain and may affect the brain’s response to caffeine.
The implications of the study are that the results could guide future investigations into the health risks and benefits of drinking coffee. One of the scientists, Marilyn Cornelis, a nutrition research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health, explained this further in an interview with the Boston Globe: "We’ve been bombarded with studies showing good and bad findings related to coffee. But genes may account for these health differences among people [and] also lead some to drink coffee and others to abstain."
The research has been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The study is headed "Genome-wide meta-analysis identifies six novel loci associated with habitual coffee consumption."
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