A new epigenome-wide association study on coffee and tea consumption in people of European and African American ancestries has revealed 11 specific epigenetic (DNA methylation) changes that are significantly associated with coffee consumption and 2 changes that are associated with tea consumption. The study was conducted by a large international consortium in collaboration with scientists from the Epigenomics and Mechanisms Branch and the Nutrition and Metabolism Branch of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The results have been published in Nature Communications.
Among the genomic regions that are significantly associated with coffee consumption, several map to genes associated with hepatic lipid metabolism. This suggests that coffee-associated epigenetic variations may explain the mechanism of action of coffee consumption in modulating disease risk.
Interestingly, one of the methylation markers associated with coffee consumption overlapped with smoking-specific markers. These may be related to substances formed during coffee-roasting processes. Although the investigators accounted for smoking status in their analyses, given that cigarette smoking is associated with coffee consumption and that smoking has a notable effect on DNA methylation, the association between these epigenetic changes and coffee consumption warrants further studies.
Karabegović I, Portilla-Fernandez E, Li Y, Ma J, Maas SCE, Sun D, et al.
Epigenome-wide association meta-analysis of DNA methylation with coffee and tea consumption
Nat Commun, Published online 14 May 2021;