Is Your Coffee Habit Inherited?

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You think that you drink coffee because you like the taste and aroma or because it wakes you up in the morning and keeps you going all day. Is that true? Maybe, as an article in the Los Angeles Times suggests, your coffee habit may be written in your DNA. Scientists have been studying the genetics behind coffee cravings since the 1960s. In 1962, they found that coffee-drinking habits appeared to be hereditary. More recently, large-scale studies have found an association between the amount of coffee people consume and a small handful of genes. The authors report that among more than 1,200 people living in Italy, those with the genetic variant PDSS2 tend to drink one fewer cups of coffee per day than those without the variation.

Further analysis revealed that expression of the PDSS2 gene appears to inhibit the body’s ability to break down caffeine. If that’s the case, people with this variant would require less coffee to get a strong caffeine jolt because the caffeine would linger in their system for a longer time. So it turns out that some folks need less coffee to keep going because they do not metabolize it as fast as the rest of us. If you are one of the folks who drink six cups a day it may just be that your system is breaking down and excreting your coffee faster than other folks. If that is your case blame your parents who passed on that trait. How Does This Affect Coffee’s Health Benefits? We know that coffee drinker has a reduced likelihood of getting Type II diabetes as well as multiple sclerosis, melanoma, and liver cancer. And in general, the benefit increases the more coffee that you drink. What we do not know is if those folks who require less coffee because they break it down faster still get the benefits of coffee consumption, namely a reduced chance of dying in the next few years, less Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and the rest.

A more recent report shows that drinking coffee after a heart attack is helpful. British researchers at York University tracked over 3,700 heart-attack survivors and their coffee-drinking habits. They found patients who regularly drank at least one cup of coffee a day had a 20 percent reduced risk of death from heart damage compared with those who never drank coffee. And heavy drinkers, those who consumed two or more cups a day were nearly half as likely to die prematurely.

Why these findings are important is because once you have a heart attack, you’re at a high risk for another heart attack or for developing heart failure. People who have had one heart attack have a higher risk of getting another than people who have not had their first attack. Researchers believe that the flavonoids in coffee help reduce the buildup of arteriosclerotic fatty deposits in artery walls, improve blood vessel function and reduce blood pressure.

So, whether your coffee habit is inherited or not, coffee is good for you for many reasons.

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