Coffee beans and human genes


According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average American drinks about 3.1 cups of coffee a day, amounting to approximately 300 mg of caffeine (Photo Credit: Danya Ziazadeh).

Every morning, many Americans raise a steaming cup of coffee to their lips. Whether served hot or iced, coffee is seemingly essential in order to function properly throughout the day.

In fact, that extra cup of coffee you crave may be linked to your DNA and genetic transcription.

A recent study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that six newly discovered genetic variants can influence a person’s daily coffee consumption. The study polled more than 120,000 people on their coffee usage and scanned their DNA.

The research group, led by Marilyn Cornelis, shed light on the effect coffee has on the human body.

“Overall, we have known for a long time that there are some genetic components for our coffee-consuming behaviors,” Cornelis told CNN.

This explains why different individuals respond differently to coffee.

Cornelis told CNN that researchers will be able to use this information to effectively study the health effect of coffee and caffeine in the future.

While moderate caffeine consumption offers some health benefits, such as a decreased risk of cardiovascular and Parkinson’s disease, it may also pose health threats if too much is consumed. According to the Mayo Clinic, teenagers should be taking in no more than 100 mg caffeine a day, while adults should limit themselves to 400 mg a day.

For a country that drinks 100 million cups of coffee daily, this may be an issue. Negative health effects of caffeine, regardless of age, include muscle tremors, reduced control of fine motor movements, insomnia, anxiety, an increase in blood pressure, and addiction.

Junior Kaitlin Bayer, who admitted that she is addicted to coffee, drinks two to three cups of coffee daily, which is roughly 200 to 300 mg of caffeine.

“If I don’t have coffee, I don’t function at all,” said Bayer. “I have to have coffee or I’ll get caffeine withdrawals and terrible headaches.”

Senior Paige Spender who says she wishes she wasn’t so dependent on coffee, gets a Grande Starbucks every day, which contains 330 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 5.5 cans of Red Bull.

“I need some sort of caffeine every day. Once you start, you can’t stop,” said Spender.  “I just can’t function without it.”

On the other hand, freshman Benicia Booker, drinks coffee purely for taste. She states that she knows how to control her coffee intake, despite the fact that she drinks three cups a day.

“I never really worry,” said Booker. “I always stop myself after three cups, and if I have to, I’ll make myself drink water for the rest of the day.”