Coffee consumption linked to a decrease in DNA breakageIf you’re a regular coffee drinker, you could be ensuring the integrity of your DNA, according to the results of a new German study. The research found that those who drank three cups of a dark roast coffee blend per day experienced 27 percent fewer DNA strand breaks in their white blood cells than those who drank water instead. Previous research has shown that coffee consumption can decrease the instances of oxidative damage in our white blood cells. This damage is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species called ‘free radicals’ – atoms, molecules, or ions that end up with one or more unpaired electrons, which makes them highly reactive with other cellular structures – and the cell’s ability to counteract their harmful effects.  If left unregulated, free radicals can damage all of the components of a cell, including its proteins, lipids, and DNA. When our DNA is damaged, the body isn’t always able to repair it, or isn’t capable of repairing it properly, which can lead to compromised function, or mutations. If serious enough, the mutations can develop into cancer, and the lack of function will result in accelerated cellular ageing. The researchers wanted to take the investigation into the link between DNA damage and coffee consumption further by looking into the effects of the popular beverage on a person’s levels of spontaneous DNA strand breaks. Stand breakage occurs when one or both strands of a DNA double helix are pulled apart, and can sometimes be mashed together again with different types of broken DNA, causing genome rearrangements. In some cases, this will promote the growth of cancer cells. Spontaneous stand breakage is widely used by scientists as a marker of poor health, or as an indiction of a potential health risk. The team, led by T. Bakuradze from the University of Kaiserslautern, enlisted 84 men aged between 19 and 50, who had healthy weights and diets, were non-smokers, and did not use drugs or alcohol on a regular basis. The volunteers were asked to consume either three cups (750 ml) of fresh coffee brew or plain water, every day for four weeks – one in the morning, one at noontime, and one in the afternoon. The coffee was a special roasted and blended Arabica coffee, and was served black, and the volunteers were given the option of having one teaspoon of sugar. Other caffeinated products were avoided during this time. More