Science Finally Does Something Useful, Proves Alcohol + Caffeine = Love And Happiness
Remember how a couple years ago the FDA was all like wahh wahh wahhh if you keep ingesting massive amounts of caffeine with startlingly large amounts of alcohol, you might feel sad or die or both?” and they took your precious Four Loko away and made it come back as zombie Four Loko without all the delicious caffeine and taurine and whatever other sorts of -ines would keep you awake for days?
That was literally fascism, America. The FDA was the boot stomping on your face forever, and now we know that they were WRONG WRONG WRONG and the whole thing was just a plot to make us a nation of sober sleepyheads.
When cells divide, they must first replicate all of their genetic material. DNA replication is a very tightly controlled process; the double helix must be unwound, and the many enzymes involved must be coordinated to ensure that every nucleotide in each of our 46 chromosomes is copied exactly and only once. The system generally works pretty well, but the DNA replication machinery has a hard time with the ends of chromosomes, called telomeres.
Now, researchers have found that caffeine makes it more difficult for cells to copy the ends of their chromosomes. But that may be OK, since they also found that booze has the opposite effect.
We have no idea what any of that means!! The article goes on to explain all about how telomeres do a thing, but we stopped reading after the part where we learned that finely calibrated alcohol-caffeine intake is the key to long life, or good chromosomes, or sexy telomeres, or whatever.
As longtime drinkers, we are, however, troubled by the end of the Ars Technica post, because it leads us to believe they do not understand how to combine caffeine and alcohol very well:
Some telomeres are too long, and some are too short. Perhaps striking the right balance of caffeine and alcohol is the key to keeping them just right—as if you needed an excuse to have another hot toddy.
Ahem. Hot toddies do not contain caffeine unless you are some sort of philistine. A hot toddy is liquor + hot water + sugar, and, if you’re feeling fancy, throw in some spices. No liqueurs. No coffee. Nada.
We’ll forgive them, though, as they’ve brought this important information to light and will help us to overthrow the shackles of imperial government something or other and walk in the light of Four Loko — unchanged, uncut, maximum caffeinated Four Loko — again.
UPDATE: Commenter therealtinlizzy got all het up about some sort of DNA RNA RUN DMC logick thing they wanted us to include because of how maybe Ars Technica didn’t exactly understand this whole thing too good, and they wouldn’t stop bothering us about it, so here it is.
Ars Technica quote: “From there on, telomeres get shorter with each cell division since they are so difficult to replicate.”
Some background. To be replicated, DNA is “unzipped” and each unzipped strand serves as the template for an enzyme (DNA polymerase) to build a new strand complimentary to one of the (now detached) originals. DNA polymerase needs a starter chunk of nucleotides, so it makes use of a “primer” composed of RNA (similar to DNA, but different – go look it up, Sherlock).
Telomeres aren’t magic or special – they’re just repeating sequences of DNA on the ends of chromosomes (themselves just loooong strands of DNA). Each time a chromosome is replicated, the terminal most chunk of the telomere is lost due to that impermanent RNA primer on the new strand. It’s been analogized to painting oneself into a corner – you can’t paint the part you’re standing on; DNA polymerase can’t replicate the chunk of the parent DNA that the RNA primer is getting in the way of.
We don’t know what any of this means either!! OK, so maybe they got the “science” all “wrong” but that doesn’t mean that alcohol and caffeine don’t work together to make us more better at evolution or whatever so TEAM FOUR LOKO FOR LIFE.