Coffee consumption rapidly reduces background DNA strand breaks in healthy humans: Results of a short-term repeated uptake intervention study

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016 Mar;60(3):682-6. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201500668. Epub 2015 Dec 29.


Scope: Intervention studies provide evidence that long-term coffee consumption correlates with reduced DNA background damage in healthy volunteers. Here, we report on short-term kinetics of this effect, showing a rapid onset after normal coffee intake.

Methods and results: In a short-term human intervention study, we determined the effects of coffee intake on DNA integrity during 8 h. Healthy male subjects ingested coffee in 200 mL aliquots every second hour up to a total volume of 800 mL. Blood samples were taken at baseline, immediately before the first coffee intake and subsequently every 2 h, prior to the respective coffee intake. DNA integrity was assayed by the comet assay. The results show a significant (p < 0.05) reduction of background DNA strand breaks already 2 h after the first coffee intake. Continued coffee intake was associated with further decrements in background DNA damage within the 8 h intervention (p < 0.01 and p < 0.001, respectively). Mean tail intensities (TIs%) decreased from 0.33 TI% (baseline, 0 h) to 0.22 TI% (within 8 h coffee consumption).

Conclusion: Repeated coffee consumption was associated with reduced background DNA strand breakage, clearly measurable as early as 2 h after first intake resulting in a cumulative overall reduction by about one-third of the baseline value.

Keywords: Coffee; Comet assay; DNA; Short-term; Strand breaks.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkaloids / analysis
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology
  • Caffeine / analysis
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Coffee* / chemistry
  • Comet Assay
  • DNA Damage / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Alkaloids
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • trigonelline