Reading the Coffee Beans
The protein involved is a master enzyme in the liver. It not only breaks caffeine down but is also a critical part of the metabolism of other bioactive compounds like estrogen and many pharmaceuticals. Thus it is no surprise at all that different people react differently to coffee and other compounds. These latest coffee findings remind us that we all have individual metabolism quirks, some genetic and some acquired, which contribute to our personal traits and tastes. And variations still unrecognized are bound to account for many of the inconsistent medical reports. For example, there are post-menopausal women for whom estrogen replacement works wonders, while others feel awful or gain no benefit. Calcium and vitamin D metabolism, and the need for supplements, vary among those susceptible to fragile thin bones, compared with those who have strong bones.
Even if it makes you jittery, think coffee the next time you hear dissonance about food on your dining table or pills in your medicine chest. Remember, it's more than the "coffee." Your personal chemistry plays a role, too. Until we doctors have simple and reliable tests to profile the genes and other markers that define metabolism, prudence is your best guide. Read beyond the headlines. Talk to your doctor. Listen to your body. Whether it's a cup of coffee, a hormone patch, a candy bar, or a daily statin, moderation is best in all things. At least, that is, until we can tell you for sure just what your own personal metabolism demands or will let you get away with. Third cuppa joe, anyone?