Coffee consumption patterns are all in the genes

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th September 2011

As part of an international study, researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) claim they have identified a gene that plays a role in influencing how much coffee people drink.

Dr Enda Byrne from QIMR said the study, published today in Molecular Psychiatry journal, shows that there is a small genetic variant in the population that determines how people react to coffee and therefore explains why some people will consume coffee at higher levels and why others won’t drink it at all

”Our study found coffee consumption is not only influenced by genes, but caffeine can also affect the expression of genes,” Dr Byrne said. “With caffeine impacting gene expression, we believe that caffeine then influences chemical pathways in the body.

“We also found a link between caffeine genes and other complex conditions, such as hypertension and Parkinson’s disease.

“Our study showed there were changes in the expression of genes previously linked to Parkinson’s disease after exposure to caffeine. While this finding relates directly to coffee consumption, it provides another small piece of the puzzle and could lead to further discoveries around the affect of caffeine on a range of complex disorders.”

QIMR worked closely with researchers from the Erasmus University Medical Centre in the Netherlands and looked at genes across the entire human genome of over 18,000 participants.

“In the Genetic Epidemiology Lab at QIMR, we are constantly looking at small genetic changes that increase disease risk. We often find interesting genetic variants, such as this coffee consumption gene, during our investigations,” Dr Byrne said.