Genes and Coffee: Slow-Metabolizers

slcoth with coffee cup - slow-metabolizers

 

40 percent of people are fast metabolizers. About 45 percent have both a slow and a fast copy, and 15 percent carry two copies of the slow allele.

Heavy coffee consumption (more than four cups day) was  linked to a higher likelihood of heart attacks in the slow metabolizers.

Highlights

For Coffee Drinkers, the Buzz May Be in Your Genes

The health community can’t quite agree on whether coffee is more potion or poison. The American Heart Association says the research on whether coffee causes heart disease is conflicting. 

Why is there so much conflicting evidence about coffee? The answer may be in our genes.

About a decade ago, Ahmed El-Sohemy, Ph.D.  noticed the conflicting research on coffee and the widespread variation in how people respond to it. 

Dr. El-Sohemy  zeroed in on one gene in particular, CYP1A2, which controls an enzyme – also called CYP1A2 – that determines how quickly our bodies break down caffeine.

One variant of the gene causes the liver to metabolize caffeine very quickly. People who inherit two copies of the “fast” variant – one from each parent – are generally referred to as fast metabolizers. Their bodies metabolize caffeine about four times more quickly than people who inherit one or more copies of the slow variant of the gene. These people are called slow metabolizers.

Heavy coffee consumption (more than four cups day) was  linked to a higher likelihood of heart attacks in the slow metabolizers.

“The increased risk that we saw among the entire population was driven entirely by the people that were slow metabolizers,” said Dr. El-Sohemy,  “When you look at the fast metabolizers, there was absolutely no increased risk.”

The trend among fast metabolizers was quite the opposite. Those who drank one to three cups of coffee daily had a significantly reduced risk of heart attacks – suggesting that for them coffee was protective.

Dr. El-Sohemy suspects that because caffeine hangs around longer in a slow metabolizer, it has more time to act as a trigger of heart attacks. But fast metabolizers clear caffeine from their systems rapidly, allowing the antioxidants, polyphenols and coffee’s other healthful compounds to kick in without the side effects of caffeine, he said.

 

 New York Times


  Anahad O’Connor
  July 12, 2016

 

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Dr. Parker’s Commentary

The differing of coffee on different individuals is an excellent example of how drugs uniquely affect individuals, the “one person’s meat is another person’s poison” aphorism.

In this case, it’s “one person’s coffee is another person’s heart attack.”

 

“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.”  

-Dave Barry-  

Dr. Parker is a 68 year old heart attack survivor and cardiac psychologist. He is an Honors graduate of Stanford University with forty years of clinical experience. Dr. Parker is available for consultation on heart matters. Contact him at heartcurrents(at)gmail.com.