In biology, epigenetics explores the intricate ways in which our genes express themselves.
This process primarily refers to the production of proteins but there are genetic coding mechanisms that play a monumental role in the function of RNA.
The latter is particularly relevant during The Covid-19 pandemic, given genetic integrity seems to share a robust relationship with case severity.
It has long since been established that diet is a compelling way to encourage progressive dialogue between our genes without modifying our genetic code.
More discreetly, the microbial properties of coffee have been proven to eradicate germs in the skin. And caffeic acid is known to increase collagen levels.
Both of these subsequently delay the aging process.
A new preliminary study conducted by researchers at The Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, endeavored to take this concept one step further.
According to their findings, caffeine induces behavioral and genetic changes that may contribute to longevity by decreasing our risk of developing comorbidities.
“Coffee and tea are extensively consumed beverages worldwide. Observational studies have shown contradictory findings for the association between consumption of these beverages and different health outcomes,” the authors of the new paper wrote. “Collectively, this study indicates that coffee consumption is associated with differential DNA methylation levels at multiple CpGs, and that coffee-associated epigenetic variations may explain the mechanism of action of coffee consumption in conferring disease risk.”
Epigenome-wide association meta-analysis of gene expression with coffee and tea consumption
The researchers devised a meta-analysis of 15,789 participants belonging to 15 independent European and African-American ancestries from 15 different cohorts.
In relation to coffee, gene communication is responsible for everything from caffeine addiction to impacting our likelihood
of succumbing to chronic illness.
Although the extent of these benefits varies between populations, the researchers identified several genes linked to serious illnesses that are influenced by habitual caffeine consumption.
“Among these, cg14476101 was significantly associated with the expression of its annotated gene PHGDH and risk of fatty liver disease. The knockdown of PHGDH expression in liver cells showed a correlation with expression levels of lipid-associated genes, suggesting the role of PHGDH in hepatic-lipid metabolism. Collectively, this study indicates that coffee consumption,” the authors continued.
Prolonged exposure to free radicals is inevitable. They envelop us covertly, in sun rays, oxygen, and pollution. Over time the collagen fibers in our skin begin to diminish, accelerating the physical hallmarks of aging.
Coffee is rich with free-radical fighting compounds called antioxidants.
These very same antioxidants are also instrumental in fighting diseases, preventing cavities, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and various forms of cancer.
Caffeine has been independently reported to prevent the development of Parkinson’s disease and drinkers express fewer instances of cognitive failure.
A recent study published by The National Cancer Institute corroborates the broad strokes of the citations above; finding that habitual coffee drinkers are 20% less likely to develop malignant melanoma.
Similarly, an epidemiological study published in the Journal Circulation back in 2015 found that people who routinely drink coffee were less susceptible to neurological disorders, heart disease, and even suicide.
Coffee’s effect on gene expression isn’t in and of itself a positive or a negative but an important piece of a larger ever-moving physiological puzzle.
“Future studies are warranted to validate our findings and to explore the biological relevance of the associated DNA methylation sites and genes in beneficial and harmful association with different health outcomes,” the new paper concludes.
CW Headley is a reporter for the Ladders and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.