Well, here’s a little information to scare the caffeine addiction right out of you. A new study is out warning that coffee, tea, and liquid smoke flavoring could all be doing serious damage to your DNA. While doctors aren’t warning that you should stop consuming the products all together, they do believe that the preliminary information deserves some serious further study.
Researchers discovered the troubling information through a test normally used to identify carcinogens. When a cancerous material begins to attack your cells, your body creates a repair gene called p53. Researchers measure this gene to see how human cells respond to certain substances. And according to scientists from Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center report in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, some pretty common foods had some very troubling results.
From Time’s Healthland:
Cultures with the black and green teas, coffee and liquid smoke all began to glow, indicating that p53 was hard at work doing damage control. Tests with other flavorings, including fish and oyster sauces, smoked paprika, wasabi powder and kim chee, didn’t activate p53 to the same levels.
The news is so surprising because while smoke flavoring has been a concern in other studies, tea and even coffee are often thought to have health advantages.
Researchers don’t want to alarm consumers too quickly. They haven’t been able to show that the DNA damage is anything that our cells can’t come back from. They explain,
“When you find something damaging in food, you can’t overreact. You have to think, is this one we could be made to handle normally, or is this one that should worry us? In this report, we don’t know the answer to that question.”
Still, it’s hard to think about the fact that two of my favorite and most common beverages, tea and coffee, might be damaging my DNA. Seriously, I have a cup of coffee every morning and one or two cups of tea a day. Could there be a level at which these drinks become dangerous? Unfortunately, there’s just not enough information to be sure yet. But the researchers are definitely concerned.
“There’s no doubt our body tries to repair [the damage]. It might do a very good job of it. So if we found the signature was a really weak one, I would worry a lot less. It means we can repair this damage really easily. If the signature, however, involves big deletions of DNA or some structural DNA lesions it leaves behind, then we could look for these calling cards in diseases [such as cancer].”