The Genes in Your Coffee (and Cancer-Protective Compounds)

Quick: what do tea, chocolate and coffee all have in common? There’s actually a lot they share – including many cancer-protective compounds – but for all who answered caffeine, that’s the big one.CoffeeBeansCup_dreamstime_13158097_blog

Now a research team has sequenced a draft of the genome of the coffee plant, finding that the caffeine compound has probably evolved independently of tea or chocolate. The researchers sequenced the plant Coffea canephora, which reportedly accounts for almost a third of the world’s coffee production.

The study was published on Friday in Science.

In all, the scientists identified about 25,000 protein-producing genes in the plant. (Humans have approximately 21,000 genes.) When they compared the coffee genome to the DNA of tea and chocolate they found coffee’s caffeine enzymes are more closely related to other genes within the coffee plant than to caffeine enzymes in tea and chocolate.

Compared to the grape and tomato, the coffee plant contains larger families of genes that relate to the production of flavonoid and other compounds, which contribute to the smell of coffee and are studied for their health benefits. Continue reading


Breakfast: Still Good for Health and Preventing Cancer?

Important or not? If you’ve seen breakfast news stories lately, you may wonder if you need to bother with that steaming bowl of oatmeal or morning yogurt and fruit.Yoghurt with fresh fruits and almonds

The two recent studies, highlighted in Cancer Research Update this week, focused on how breakfast affects weight. These trials were short term, but they do seem to show that if you just don’t like or want to eat breakfast, it may not make a difference for weight loss. If that finding holds, it could give you more flexibility in finding ways that work for you to get extra weight off.

However, there are great reasons to start your day off with something healthy – whether you consider it breakfast or a snack: Continue reading