If you’ve ever wondered why you have this overwhelming desire to consume large quantities of coffee every single day, we might have an explanation for you. Scientists in Italy say that they’ve identified a gene that makes people inclined to drink lots of coffee.
According to The Local, an Italian newspaper, these scientists analysed the coffee drinking habits and DNA from over 1,100 Italian volunteers. The researchers then calculated their research and found a gene that is correlated with increased coffee consumption. Italian villagers who carry a specific variant of the PDSS2 gene consume about one less cup of coffee per day compared with non-carriers, according to researchers at Edinburgh University.
This gene variant apparently affects people’s coffee intake by slowing the metabolism of caffeine in the body. When the caffeine is broken down more slowly, the stimulant lingers in the blood for longer and gives people more of an enduring ‘hit’ for every cup. Nicola Pirastu, a geneticist who led the study, said that the discovery reinforces the idea that caffeine is one of the main drivers for drinking coffee. He said that larger studies are needed to confirm the biological mechanism that links the PDSS2 gene to coffee drinking.
Through this research, the scientists hope to learn more about the effects of the drink. “Coffee is protective against some types of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and Parkinson’s. Understanding what is driving its consumption may help us understand what the effects on these diseases are, and so open new lines of research,” said Pirastu.
For the study, researchers analysed the genetic make-up of people in two different Italian villages, where they were asked to complete a survey which included a question about how many cups of coffee they drank each day. Just to double check on the research, they also conducted the study in the Netherlands and had 1731 people go through the same process and found a similar effect. But the gene’s apparent influence over coffee consumption was weaker there.