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The next gene we are going to turn our attention to is CYP1A2. The enzyme produced by this gene is responsible for about 95% of all caffeine metabolisation in the body, which is why it can be found in our caffeine report. It also plays a role in phase-1 detoxification, particularly in how well your body deals with HCAs and PAHs found in charred meats.

The next gene we are going to turn our attention to is CYP1A2. The enzyme produced by this gene is responsible for about 95% of all caffeine metabolisation in the body, which is why it can be found in our caffeine report. It also plays a role in phase-1 detoxification, particularly in how well your body deals with HCAs and PAHs found in charred meats.

As with all our genes, there are two different alleles, in this case A and C. The A allele is associated with a higher activity of the CYP1A2 enzyme, and the C allele is associated with lower activity of the enzyme. With regards to caffeine response, AA genotypes tend to metabolise caffeine quicker than AC and CC genotypes – as a result AA genotypes are called “fast metabolisers” and the AC and CC genotypes are classed as “slow metabolisers”. This can be important, because research has looked at the effects of caffeine on cardiovascular health, and have found that the effect of caffeine differs between genotypes. In a 2006 study it was found that if slow metabolisers had more than about 3 cups of coffee per day, their risk of suffering from a myocardial infarction (heart attack) was much increased. However, this effect was not found in fast metabolisers. The same is true for hypertension; a 2009 study found that higher amounts of caffeine (approximately 3 cups of coffee per day) were associated with an increased risk of hypertension – but only in slow caffeine metabolisers. Based on these studies, and others like them, DNAFit recommend that slow metabolisers should limit their intake of caffeine to around 200mg per day; the equivalent to 2 cups of coffee, approximately 4 cups of tea, or 2 energy drinks. Fast metabolisers can consume more caffeine should they wish, up to approximately 300mg per day.

 

We also look at CYP1A2 from the perspective of phase-1 detoxification ability, which looks at how well your liver can handle two compounds found in cooked meats, called HCAs and PAHs. These compounds form when meat is cooked at a high temperature, and has become blackened, crispy, or chargrilled. We then eat this meat, and our body starts to break down these HCAs and PAHs, which creates a toxic by-product. If you breakdown these HCAs and PAHs quickly, you get a rapid increase in this toxic by-product, and your body becomes a bit overwhelmed and can’t deal with it particularly well. However, if you break them down slowly, you get a much gentler increase in the toxic by-product, and your body can deal with it better. CYP1A2 is one gene involved in this pathway, and A allele carriers are classed as fast metabolisers, with CC genotypes classed as slow metabolisers. In the case of fast metabolisers, we would recommend that they limit their consumption of grilled or smoked meats, and focus on protecting the meat during the cooking processes; using a lower cooking temperature, and cooking with a liquid (curries, stews, stir fries, marinades) should help with this.

 

In summing up then, we can see that your version of the CYP1A2 gene can have an impact on how well you tolerate caffeine, and how well you deal with HCAs and PAHs. Knowledge of this can be important in making dietary changes to maximise your health.

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