Study finds genes help shape your subconscious coffee cravings

Do you often drink coffee, or do you tend to only turn to the popular beverage on occasion? Perhaps you made the switch from regular to decaf coffee at some point and you're still not quite sure why you made the change. According to a new study from the University of South Australia, your genes may play a big role in shaping these coffee habits based on your cardio health.

The study involved more than 390,000 people, finding that a person's genes play a big role in their coffee — and, by proxy, caffeine — consumption habits. This process helps protect a person from consuming too much caffeine, ultimately protecting them from the potential consequences that could come with excessive stimulant exposure.

According to the study, people who suffered from certain risky conditions, including heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure, and angina, were more likely to consume decaf coffee, drink less of it, or entirely avoid it compared to people who didn't have these cardiovascular risks.

The data was pulled from UK Biobank, giving researchers insight into the potential link between heart health, genes, and self-regulated coffee habits. The findings indicate that inversely, a person's coffee habits may provide some insight into their cardiovascular health, hinting that there's likely a reason why someone may be drawn toward decaf coffee, for example.

Professor Elina Hyppönen, the study's lead researcher, explained:

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 recognise 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.

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.