This IS Why You're Addicted to Coffee

by Doyin Oyeniyi

Coffee addicts, rejoice! There might be a genetic basis for your coffee addiction, so now you have someone to blame. Researchers have found six new genes that can determine how people react to coffee, according to a study published Tuesday in Molecular Psychiatry. These new genes are an addition to the two that have been previously identified by the research group, resulting in a total of eight reasons why you’re already on your eighth cup today. The genes can help explain why some people need just one cup of coffee for the day while others need three, and why some people, like me, fall asleep in cafes immediately after just one cup (true story).

The study, led by Marilyn Cornelis from the Harvard School of Public Health, states that two of the genes are related to the metabolism of caffeine and another two are related to caffeine’s psychoactive effects. The remaining two genes are related to lipid and glucose metabolism and don’t have a clear connection to coffee consumption, but still “present a possible avenue of investigation,” Cornelis told the Harvard Gazette.

The Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, an international group launched two years ago by researchers of coffee-related genes, conducted the study. Researchers combined data from their own studies and analyzed information on the coffee-drinking habits of more than 120,000 people. According to the study, these genes can explain 1.3 percent of coffee-drinking behavior, which is just as significant as the amount of genes that explain smoking and alcohol consumption.

These genes are a breakthrough that also present more possibilities for the study of effects coffee and caffeine. There's the possibility of more genes connected to caffeine and the potential for insight into coffee's possibly physiological effects, Cornelius told the Harvard Gazette.

"The next question is who is benefiting most from coffee," Cornelius said. "If, for example, caffeine is protective, individuals might have very similar physiological exposure to caffeine, once you balance the metabolism."

If further studies by the Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium means I might one day be able to enjoy a cup of coffee without feeling sleepy afterward, I'm all for it.