Your Caffeine Addiction May Be Genetic

By

Addicted to coffee? Unable to raise even one eyelid in the a.m. — let alone lift your head off the pillow (mmmm … nice, soft pillow) — without a few sips from your mug, or to get through your afternoon meetings without a quick hit of espresso? Don’t blame yourself. Blame your genes.

Researchers say the urge to consume coffee may be encoded in our DNA. They’ve pinpointed a DNA variation in a gene — PDSS2 — that seems to curtail coffee consumption because it reduces the ability to metabolize caffeine. Those with the genetic variation retain caffeine in their bodies for a greater length of time. That means they get a bigger caffeine kick per cup of coffee than those who do not have the gene variation.

In other words, those who don’t have the genetic variation have to drink more coffee to feel its deliciously enlivening effects. It may also be why some people can’t sleep if they drink coffee late in the day, while others aren’t bothered.

The study was conducted initially in Italy and replicated (with some wiggle room for cultural differences) in the Netherlands, included participation (but not financial support) from the Italian coffee company Illy and was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

“The results of our study add to existing research suggesting that our drive to drink coffee may be embedded in our genes,” study co-author Dr. Nicola Pirastu, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh, said in a press release. “We need to do larger studies to confirm the discovery and also to clarify the biological link between PDSS2 and coffee consumption.”

Sounds good. In the meantime, care for another cup?

Photo courtesy of iStock