Your daily cuppa could be driving your anxiety: FAQ about Genetic testing for caffeine sensitivity

1) What is caffeine sensitivity and how can you test for it?


Caffeine sensitivity has been in the news a lot recently but it is hard to believe that the stimulant which is known to battle fatigue and improve creativity can do any harm. Caffeine sensitivity is a term used to describe the efficiency of the human body to process caffeine and to metabolize it. We have all heard of co-workers who drink 6 cups of coffee every day, the recreational drink for nearly 60% of Americans, and friends who guzzle a cup an hour before bed time. Yet there are some of us who feel jittery, anxious or even restless after a single cup. So, is caffeine a scourge, a tonic, or a mix of both?


Is coffee good for you? For starters, coffee has a few benefits. A large research study showed that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source. Other studies have shown that there are several nutrients present in a cup of brewed coffee, like Magnesium, Niacin and Potassium, depending upon the soil nutrients and the type of processing.


2) How does caffeine work? Caffeine has a structure similar to adenosine and works as an adenosine receptor antagonist that blocks the actions of adenosine and leads to alertness. Though this can affect the quality of sleep among certain people, it could help in situations where mental alertness is critical, like driving at night or to avert jet lag.  


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 300 milligrams of caffeine are consumed by the Average American everyday. The Mayo clinic states that drinking up to 400 milligrams per day is safe, which is approximately 4 cups. A good cup of coffee is the most popular caffeine delivery mechanism with a few health benefits like being a good source of anti-oxidants, warding off liver disease and protecting against Parkinson’s.


The health risks and benefits have been understood, over the years, however, caffeine and metabolism, or the way in which our body processes the chemical, varies on several key factors.


3) How much of caffeine is present in a cup of coffee/tea or cola?

  • A cup of coffee contains up to 200 mg of caffeine
  • A cup of tea contains up to to 80 mg caffeine
  • A cup of cola may contain between 40 and 70 mg of caffeine.

4) What is Caffeine metabolism: Caffeine is an alkaloid and is also known as  1,3,7-trimetilksantin. It is acidic in its pure crystalline form and is found in over 60 plants species. Due to potentially ineffective CYP1A2 enzyme’s activity, some people can have problems after 2-3 cups of coffee per day. These people are slower caffeine metabolizers, which can cause problems with high blood pressure, and can also lead to heart attack. The enzyme CYP1A2 is responsible for the metabolism of caffeine in the liver.


5) What is the significance of CYP1A2 gene? The CYP1A2 gene regulates the synthesis of the enzyme and small variations in this gene are associated with the efficiency of caffeine metabolism. Some people are genetically predisposed to produce very little of CYP1A2 enzyme while others may produce a large amount. Approximately 10% of the population are found to be rapid caffeine metabolizers, which rates them high on caffeine sensitivity.


6) Who are slow metabolizers of caffeine: The polymorphism associated with caffeine metabolism is rs762551. Studies have shown that individuals with AC or CC genotypes are slow metabolizers and they have a slightly increased risk for heart attack when drinking more than 2 cups of coffee every day. Drinking more than 4 cups of coffee could further increase the risk for heart attacks in such individuals who are slow metabolizers of caffeine. These individuals have high caffeine sensitivity.

7) Who are Fast metabolizers of caffeine: Individuals who have the AA genotype in the specific polymorphism of CYP1A2 gene are considered to be fast metabolizers. In a study conducted on 553 individuals, it was found that people with this genotype had 70% reduction in risk of heart attack on increased consumption of caffeine. These individuals have low caffeine sensitivity.


8) How do you find out your caffeine metabolizer status? Genetic testing for Caffeine metabolism- how many cups of coffee should you consume?


The polymorphism in the CYP1A2 gene has been well studied and can be used to determine the caffeine metabolism status. This can be used to determine the number of cups of caffeine that may be consumed. 


9) What does 23andme caffeine result provide? The 23andme reports provide the caffeine metabolizer status. There are other well known 23andme third party tools,like Xcode Life, that can be used to obtain a better understanding. Upload 23andme raw data to find out.

Upload your 23andme raw data to find out your caffeine metabolism status.

CC[Slow Metabolizers] Likely higher risk of heart attack when more than 4 cups of coffee are consumed
AC[Slow Metabolizers] Likely higher risk of heart attack when more than 4 cups of coffee are consumed
AA[Fast Metabolizers] Likely lower risk of heart attack on increased consumption of coffee

23andme raw data
is the genetic information obtained after a genetic test and it is usually provided as a text file. This information can be downloaded after utilizing the 23andme login provided to all 23andme customers. If, however, you have not taken up a 23andme genetic test yet but wish to do so, please click here.


10) How can your Ancestry DNA raw data be used to identify your caffeine metabolizer status?


Ancestry DNA raw data upload to find out caffeine metabolism status


You have completed the first essential step by getting yourself tested with Ancestry DNA However, there is a wealth of information provided by ancestry DNA that can be used to identify a number of health and nutrition based traits. Use your ancestry DNA login to download your Ancestry DNA raw data. This Ancestry DNA raw data  can then be uploaded onto our site to identify the caffeine metabolizer status.


11) 23andme Vs Ancestry DNA Vs Xcode Life


23andme Vs Ancestry DNA Vs Xcode Life pertaining to caffeine metabolizer status

23andmeAncestry DNAXcode Life
Provides ancestry and health reportsProvides only ancestry reportsProvides Ancestry and health reports
Caffeine metabolism status provided in 23andme reportsCaffeine metabolism status not provided in Ancestry DNA reportsCaffeine metabolism status provided in Xcode reports
Caffeine Consumption status NOT provided in 23andme reportsCaffeine Consumption status NOT provided in Ancestry DNA reportsCaffeine Consumption status provided in Xcode reports

12) How can you find your genetic predisposition to consume caffeine?

People of certain genetic types are shown to have a genetic predisposition to drink more cups of coffee. Identification of this tendency will help in moderating coffee consumption, taking into account the caffeine metabolism status of the individual. Very few genetic testing companies provide an insight into how much coffee an individual drinks. After all, it would be good to know if you are prone to guzzling down a little too much, especially when your caffeine sensitivity scale is tipped at the wrong end.

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