Coffee Shopper

Sitting in the coffee shop corner of my local bookstore, my web ramblings turned up a couple of new and encouraging publications. The first one is the report of a metagenomic study from Caparoso et al from NIH, Bethesda (1) on a large number of  habitual caffeine consumers. The latter term is maybe more polite than addicts but I do need my early morning shot. It turns out that there are two spots on our genome that seem to be the culprits. It's always nice to be able to blame someone else for your habits and even better when it's a previous generation. 

Now, the discovery that one part of our genome sequence is helping us metabolize caffeine, whilst another part regulates the first part, is very encouraging. Since caffeine does good things for our health, apart from waking me up in the morning, understanding how we're programmed is important. It also can do bad things and maybe tracking the source of that response would be even more valuable. Some of us seem to be very intolerant to venti lattes, and maybe there is an opportunity there for some medical entrepreneur to offer some high priced genetic engineering service to those so afflicted.

Perhaps even more exciting for someone how is sitting in a store full of books to lust after, is the paper from Chang et al of NHRI in Taiwan (2). Retail therapy is now recognized as being a way towards longer and fuller life. Like all therapy, it has to be undertaken on a regular basis for it to be effective. Just once a week won’t do. Little and often is definitely the way to go.

We are left with the question of why does regular retail therapy improve your wellbeing and help you live longer? Note that it is an especially valuable therapy for the over 65s. My first thought, unworthy maybe, but first nevertheless, was that if we buy a lot, we owe a lot and we have to stay around to pay off the credit cards. But no, that’s not it. It’s the old physical activity and social interaction that does it. Scampering across the streets with loaded shopping bags will keep us nimble, and our vocabulary up to date.


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