- Researchers examined the effects of a genetic predisposition to high levels of caffeine on measures of body fat, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular risk.
- They found that a higher genetic predisposition to higher caffeine levels is linked to reduced body fat and type 2 diabetes.
- Further studies are needed to confirm the results.
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However, how much of these benefits come from caffeine is unknown. A
Understanding how caffeine intake influences the development of cardiometabolic disorders could aid in the development of dietary strategies to reduce their risk.
Recently, researchers investigated the effect of genetic predisposition to higher levels of caffeine in the blood.
They found that a genetic predisposition to higher blood levels of caffeine is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study is published in BMJ medicine.
For the study, the researchers examined data that came from a genome-wide association meta-analysis of 9,876 individuals of mostly European descent.
They used the data to investigate two common genetic variants: CYP1A2 And AHR genes – in their analysis. These genes slow down the metabolism of caffeine, meaning those who carry the variants need to drink less coffee to have elevated levels of caffeine in their blood, compared to those who metabolize it quickly.
Researchers also collected data on body fat, risk of type 2 diabetes and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ultimately, the researchers found that genetically predicted higher blood levels of caffeine were associated with lower BMI, total body fat mass and risk of type 2 diabetes.
Through further analysis, they found that 43% of caffeine’s protective effect in blood on type 2 diabetes came from weight loss.
They found no strong link between genetically predicted caffeine levels and cardiovascular disease, including ischemic heart disease, heart failure and stroke.
When asked how higher caffeine intake may promote weight loss, Dr. Dana Ellis Hunnes, assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study, noted that higher caffeine intake may increase thermogenesis or increases heat production in the body. .
She explained Medical News Today That “[h]eating production increases calorie burning, and if we burn more calories than we take in, we are more easily able to lose weight and fat.
Dr. Rohini Manaktala, a cardiologist at Memorial Hermann in Houston, TX, not involved in the study, also shared MNT that caffeine causes weight loss by speeding up metabolism.
“This is a dose-dependent process, which means [that] increasing [the] intake of caffeine […] leads to more fat and calorie burning, which is reflected in weight reduction,” she explains. “Caffeine also inhibits overeating by suppressing a person’s appetite, resulting in a calorie deficit, which helps prevent weight gain.”
MNT also spoke to Dr. Mark Guido, an endocrinologist at Novant Health Forsyth Endocrine Consultants in Winston Salem, NC, not involved in the study, to understand how, in addition to weight loss, caffeine may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
He said the science is “mixed” on the subject, but that caffeine may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by changing the way the body uses glucose and insulin.
The researchers concluded that higher blood levels of caffeine may lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Guido noted that the study has significant limitations. He said: “It has looked at naturally increased caffeine levels in people with a certain genetic predisposition, and it doesn’t appear to be looking at increased caffeine levels from food or drink. The question is whether these findings are relevant to increased caffeine levels from food or drink.”
He added that the study only looked at reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as opposed to how caffeine affects those already battling the condition.
Dr. Hunnes noted that the results are “not really causal in nature” because, unlike a randomized controlled clinical trial that studies the “whole person,” it only studied the effects of genomes.
“It’s kind of like watching in vitro – in [a] test tube — problems and making assumptions about how it will react in a person,” she noted.
Dr. Manaktala added: “A more robust randomized control trial would be helpful in studying the true clinical and health effects of caffeine. In addition, the study participants were of European descent. This makes it challenging to extrapolate research results to the general population in the US.”
Dr. Manaktala called the findings “exciting,” noting that they mean a “healthy dose” of caffeine could help prevent obesity, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, she noted:
“[W]We need to be careful before fully accepting the study’s findings and adopting new dietary habits. The most important thing to remember is that caffeine is no substitute for leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and a moderate carbohydrate/fat intake along with moderate-intensity daily exercise and careful management of chronic conditions that are risk factors for heart disease.”
Dr. Guido noted that he would not make any other recommendations to his patients based on the study results.
“I think it’s interesting and probably more studies are needed, but at this point I don’t think it changes any of the recommendations for prevention of type 2 diabetes,” he said.
“I wouldn’t change caffeine intake based on this study,” he reiterated. “It only looked at people with naturally high levels of caffeine, not how much they ingest from food or drink.”
“We also know that too much caffeine can also have significant adverse health effects related to elevated blood pressure and poor sleep, and in patients who already have type 2 diabetes, caffeine can make their sugars worse,” cautioned Dr. Guido.