The positive effects of caffeine get plenty of play –combating fatigue and increasing alertness – but what are the downsides? A recent discovery reveals your risk of suffering from negative effects of caffeine is largely based on your genetics.
While more than 70 per cent of New Zealanders consume caffeine regularly, most don’t understand the effect it can have on their sporting performance, sleep, mood and cognitive functions.
Now a Massey University study hopes to explore the habits, knowledge, beliefs and responses of New Zealanders who consume caffeine, using genetic testing to identify both positive and negative impacts.
Lead researcher, and Master of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) student Saskia Stachyshyn says one of the most studied caffeine-related genes, CYP1A2, has been identified as greatly affecting the metabolism of caffeine.
“There are three variations of this gene which determine whether an individual is a slow, intermediate or fast metaboliser of caffeine. Slow metabolisers are considered to have a higher risk of the negative effects of caffeine as it remains in the blood stream longer. One variant of this gene has been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks,” Ms Stachyshyn says.
“Another gene with an established relationship to caffeine is the adenosine receptor gene, ADORA2A. A variation of this gene has been found to be associated with Panic Disorder. It’s also associated with caffeine-induced anxiety, sleep changes and caffeine sensitivity. There is currently very little information about caffeine intake and the reasons behind the consumption of caffeine in New Zealand.”
Ms Stachyshyn says New Zealand has a growing supply of caffeinated products, making this an important research area. “This study aims to gather information on the caffeine consumption habits, knowledge, beliefs and responses of New Zealanders with the use of a questionnaire. In addition, genetic testing will be carried out through saliva samples. This information will help determine groups who are at the most risk of suffering the ill-effects of caffeine consumption.”
The study hopes to recruit around 400 participants. To take part you must be:
15 years or older (15 to 17-year-olds will need parental consent)
Competent in reading English
Willing to provide a saliva sample (5 minutes)
Willing to complete a questionnaire (20 minutes)
After the study, participants will receive a summary of the results and can also opt to receive the caffeine-related genetic information. This will include the caffeine-related genes test, particular genotypes, and an explanation of what this means.
The names of those who take part in the study will also be entered into a random draw to win an Apple iPad.
The first lot of data collection will take place this week, June 15 and 16, at Massey University’s Auckland campus in Albany, outside the Student Central building.
If you would like more information, including the dates and locations of where the next data collection stands will be set up, please email:firstname.lastname@example.org