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Caffeine cravings may be brewing in your genes

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by Aimee Keenan-Greene

Are you a java junkie?

The need for a daily dose of Joe, diet soda, or energy drinks could be linked to your DNA,  according to a new study in the journal PloS Genetics.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, says scientists involved in the study.

Now for the first time a genome-wide association study of habitual caffeine intake reveals a 'large heritable component;.

Researchers included 47,341 people of European descent based on five population-based studies in the United States. 

Through a comprehensive search of the human genome, scientists discovered two loci associated with habitual caffeine consumption: the first near AHR and the second betweenCYP1A1 and CYP1A2.

Both the AHR and CYP1A2 genes are biologically plausible candidates, as CYP1A2metabolizes caffeine and AHR regulates CYP1A2

Researchers write:  

In a meta-analysis adjusted for age, sex, smoking, and eigenvectors of population variation, two loci achieved genome-wide significance: 7p21 (P = 2.4×10−19), near AHR, and 15q24 (P = 5.2×10−14), between CYP1A1 and CYP1A2. Both the AHR and CYP1A2 genes are biologically plausible candidates as CYP1A2 metabolizes caffeine and AHR regulates CYP1A2.

Caffeine intake was assessed using semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) that included questions on the consumption of caffeinated coffee, tea, soft drinks, and chocolate.

Caffeine intake has its pros and cons.
Scientists believe understanding the genetic determinants of caffeine intake may lead to ways to study the potential health effects of caffeine more comprehensively.

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