Speed Reads


Your love of coffee could be genetic

Still itching for another cup of coffee? You may be able to blame your genes.

New research published this week in the journal Molecular Psychiatry discovered six new gene variants that are linked to coffee and caffeine consumption. A team of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital studied the results of previous studies, with a combined total of more than 120,000 participants. Their findings may help explain why some people can't get enough of the buzz, while others are ambivalent.

Deborah Kotz at The Boston Globe explains further:

Two of the gene variations were identified near genes BDNF and SLC6A4, which are thought to play a role in the rewarding effects of caffeine; the other variations were near genes involved in glucose and fat metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and addiction. Coffee drinkers had an increased likelihood of having high blood sugar levels and high cholesterol, but were less likely to have high blood pressure than those who abstained from the beverage. [The Boston Globe]

One of the study's biggest surprises was how little the taste of coffee factored into the results. "The genes we identified were predominantly related to caffeine and its metabolism or effects elicited by caffeine," said Marilyn Cornelis, the researcher who led the study. People who metabolize coffee faster are more likely to quickly reach for another cup — so next time you glug down a Venti at Starbucks, thank mom and dad.