New research by Paul Williams, staff scientist in the Molecular Biophysics & Integrated Bioimaging Division, suggests that our intake of coffee is affected by a positive feedback loop between genetics and the environment. This phenomenon, known as “quantile-specific heritability,” is also associated with cholesterol levels and body weight, and is thought to play a role in other human physiological and behavioral traits that defy simple explanation.
“It appears that environmental factors sort of set the groundwork in which your genes start to have an effect,” said Williams. “So, if your surroundings predispose you to drinking more coffee – like your coworkers or spouse drink a lot, or you live in an area with a lot of cafes – then the genes you possess that predispose you to like coffee will have a bigger impact. These two effects are synergistic.” Read more in the Berkeley Lab press release.