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Time for a third cup of coffee? Your genes may weigh in

August 2, 2021

pouring cream into cappuccino with fancy design

That internal voice urging you to curb your coffee consumption may be your genes talking.

That’s the upshot of findings from the University of South Australia, whose researchers looked at nearly 400,000 people and found “causal genetic evidence” that cardio health – as reflected in blood pressure and heart rate – influences coffee consumption. People with high blood pressure, angina and arrythmia were found to be more likely to drink less coffee altogether compared to those without such symptoms, and that this was based on genetics.

“Whether we drink a lot of coffee, a little, or avoid caffeine altogether, this study shows that genetics are guiding our decisions to protect our cardio health,” says Professor Elina Hyppönen, lead researcher and director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health. “…[S]omeone who drinks a lot of coffee is likely more genetically tolerant of caffeine, as compared to someone who drinks very little. Conversely, a non-coffee drinker, or someone who drinks decaffeinated coffee, is more likely prone to the adverse effects of caffeine, and more susceptible to high blood pressure.”

UK Biobank provides big data

The analysis relied on data from 390,435 people in the UK Biobank. Researchers used Mendelian randomization to arrive at the genetic causation. The research was described in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

This study highlights the types of insights that can arise from genetic analysis at scale. Genetic data originates in human biospecimens such as blood or saliva. Sequenced genomes are just one of the powerful data sets that can be derived from human biospecimens.

iSpecimen supports analysis of large patient groups by providing researchers with the human biospecimens they need from the patients they’re interested in, whether the patients have been diagnosed with certain conditions or are presumed to provide “healthy normal” specimens. When requesting biofluids, tissue or cells, research organizations can specify patient age, gender, race, condition, severity, blood type, procedures, test results, outcomes, smoking status, family history, and more.

Whether it’s a tendency to drink a lot of coffee or to develop a serious disease, specimens can reveal our genes. And our genes can hint at our destiny.

Learn about the iSpecimen Marketplace where you can browse millions of richly annotated, de-identified human tissue and biofluid biospecimens, in addition to hematopoietic and immune cell products and COVID-19 samples. You can join for free.