Sex-specific effects of tea consumption on methylation

Research out of Uppsala by Ek et al. showed an effect of tea consumption on methylation patterns in women, not in men. Coffee had no effect on methylation in either sex. While not a randomized trial, four large scale cohort data sets were used, giving the findings substantial weight.


Lifestyle factors, such as food choices and exposure to chemicals, can alter DNA methylation and lead to changes in gene activity. Two such exposures with pharmacologically active components are coffee and tea consumption. Both coffee and tea have been suggested to play an important role in modulating disease-risk in humans by suppressing tumour progression, decreasing inflammation and influencing estrogen metabolism. These mechanisms may be mediated by changes in DNA methylation. To investigate if DNA methylation in blood is associated with coffee and tea consumption, we performed a genome-wide DNA methylation study for coffee and tea consumption in four European cohorts (N = 3,096). DNA methylation was measured from whole blood at 421,695 CpG sites distributed throughout the genome and analysed in men and women both separately and together in each cohort. Meta-analyses of the results and additional regional-level analyses were performed. After adjusting for multiple testing, the meta-analysis revealed that two individual CpG-sites, mapping to DNAJC16 and TTC17, were differentially methylated in relation to tea consumption in women. No individual sites were associated with men or with the sex-combined analysis for tea or coffee. The regional analysis revealed that 28 regions were differentially methylated in relation to tea consumption in women. These regions contained genes known to interact with estradiol metabolism and cancer. No significant regions were found in the sex-combined and male-only analysis for either tea or coffee consumption.

Tea and coffee consumption in relation to DNA methylation in four European cohorts

Weronica E. Ek
Elmar W. Tobi
Muhammad Ahsan
Erik Lampa
Erica Ponzi
Soterios A. Kyrtopoulos
Panagiotis Georgiadis
L.H. Lumey
Bastiaan T. Heijmans
Maria Botsivali
Ingvar A. Bergdahl
Torgny Karlsson
Mathias Rask-Andersen
Domenico Palli
Erik Ingelsson
Åsa K. Hedman
Lena M. Nilsson
Paolo Vineis
Lars Lind
James M. Flanagan
Åsa Johansson
on behalf of the Epigenome-Wide Association Study Consortium

Hum Mol Genet ddx194.

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