Not all of us are equally affected by caffeine. Caffeine sensitivity depends on how long it stays around in our bodies. Some of us are “fast” caffeine metabolizers and clear caffeine much faster, while “slow” metabolizers take longer to clear it from their body.
The longer caffeine stays in the circulation, the higher the risk of a heart attack or high blood pressure (hypertension). By drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day a slow metabolizer may be increasing their risk of
• a heart attack by 2- to 4-fold
• hypertension by 3-fold
Take this simple genetic analysis to determine if caffeine consumption may be harming your health.
Close to 95% of the caffeine in the body is broken down by the CYP1A2 enzyme.
There are two common genetic variants of this enzyme – a “fast” metabolizer variant and a “slow” metabolizer variant.
The “slow” genetic variant is associated with lower levels of the CYP1A2 enzyme and a slower rate of caffeine breakdown. People who inherit the “slow” variant take longer to clear caffeine from their body.
The longer the caffeine stays in circulation, the higher the risk of heart problems and hypertension. Reduced caffeine consumption is recommended for “slow” metabolizers.
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. But, unlike other drugs that affect the brain, it’s legal, unregulated, and is available in many different forms.
Once in our bodies, caffeine will
- bind to receptors on the surface of nerve cells increasing their activity
- stimulate the pituitary glad to release hormones
- prompt the adrenal glands to make the “fight or flight” hormone adrenaline
Caffeine also increases the levels of the “feel good” dopamine, a chemical messenger in our brain, activating the pleasure centers of the brain. This increase in dopamine may be behind caffeine addiction.