Genetic evidence shows that cardio fitness influences coffee intake

If someone craves a strong caffeine hit or like the frothiness of a milky cappuccino, their daily coffee order can reveal more about their cardiovascular health than they realize.

Causal genetic evidence shows that cardio fitness influences coffee intake
Image Credit: University of South Australia

University of South Australia researchers discovered causal genetic evidence that cardio fitness—as measured in heart rate and blood pressure—affects coffee intake, in a world-first survey of 390,435 participants.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with the SAHMRI, discovered that individuals with elevated blood pressure, arrhythmia, and angina were more likely to consume decaffeinated coffee, less coffee, or skip coffee entirely than those without such symptoms and that this was due to genetics.

Professor Elina Hyppönen, lead researcher and Director of UniSA’s Australian Centre for Precision Health, says it is a promising discovery that suggests our genetics effectively control the amount of coffee we consume and prevent us from drinking too much.

People drink coffee for all sorts of reasons – as a pick me up when they’re feeling tired, because it tastes good, or simply because it’s part of their daily routine. But what we don’t recognize is that people subconsciously self-regulate safe levels of caffeine based on how high their blood pressure is, and this is likely a result of a protective genetic a mechanism.”

Elina Hyppönen, Professor and Director, Australian Centre for Precision Health, University of South Australia

What this means is that someone 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,” added Hyppönen.

High blood pressure affects one in every four men and one in every five women in Australia, and it is a potential risk for multiple chronic health problems such as heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and diabetes.

Researchers analyzed the habitual coffee intake of 390,435 people using data from the UK Biobank and compared it to baseline levels of diastolic and systolic blood pressure, as well as baseline heart rate. Mendelian randomization was used to determine causal relationships.

According to Prof. Hyppönen, the amount of coffee we consume is likely to be a predictor of our cardiovascular wellbeing.

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. If your body is telling you not to drink that extra cup of coffee, there’s likely a reason why. Listen to your body, it’s more in tune with what your health than you may think.”

Elina Hyppönen, Professor and Director, Australian Centre for Precision Health, University of South Australia

Journal reference:

Hyppönen, E & Zhou, A (2021) Cardiovascular symptoms affect the patterns of habitual coffee consumption. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Study identifies genetic mutation in the SPTSSA gene as cause of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia