Your DNA might be to blame for your latte addiction
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If you’re like Lorelei Gilmore and need six cups of coffee just to jumpstart your day, the reason might be more internal than you think.
According to a new study published in Nature Scientific Reports, the gene PDSS2 could be regulating your body’s natural digestion of caffeine, making some people more sensitive to coffee while others can knock back cup after cup without the slightest twitch.
Directed by Nicola Pirastu at the University of Trieste, the study observed cultures known for their heavy coffee consumption. Coffee lovers from several small Italian villages and one group from the Netherlands volunteered to have their DNA analyzed for genetic variations. The study authors reported finding “a novel gene associated with coffee consumption,” adding that, “the identified gene has been shown to negatively regulate the expression of the caffeine metabolism genes and can thus be linked to coffee consumption.”
[quote position="left" is_quote="false"]With the Italians knocking back petite cups of strong espresso and the Dutch sipping filtered brews, the two groups’ caffeine levels probably leveled out.[/quote]
While the Italians drank a relatively modest two to three cups of coffee a day, the Dutch were more in the Gilmore range of up to six cups a day, the study reports. Though, as any true coffee aficionado knows, not all cups are created equal. With the Italians knocking back petite cups of strong espresso and the Dutch sipping filtered brews, the two groups’ caffeine levels probably leveled out.
Researchers found that those who drink less than their fellow villagers have certain “recessive mutations.” Those who drink more, on the other hand, “have a lower expression of PDSS2.” While other genes have been correlated with caffeine consumption, the activity of this specific gene could mean the difference between feeling chipper after one cup of coffee and needing several to keep you going through the day.
It’s safe to say 50-cup-a-day Balzac and notorious bean-counter Beethoven both had lower expressions of PDSS2. Whether that correlates with a higher expression of creativity and megalomania as well is another story.