The results of a new study have called into question the health benefits of a number of best-selling energy drinks. Research published in the medical journal Pediatrics found a number of disturbing trends concerning the potential health risks of such beverages, especially among the young men who most often consume the products. Side effects commonly associated with energy drinks include dizziness, irritability, nausea, nervousness, heart problems, and severe allergic reactions.
Energy Drink Update 1/22/13: Around the country, hospital emergency rooms are reporting staggering numbers of visits related to trendy energy drinks like Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, and 5-Hour Energy. The number of ER admissions involving the controversial beverages doubled between 2007 and 2011, according to a new report issued by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). Click here to learn more.
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What’s the Problem with Energy Drinks?
The Pediatrics study, which was originally published in February 2011, found that energy drinks have little to no tangible therapeutic benefit, and that many of their ingredients are unregulated and understudied.
“The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects in association with energy-drink use. In the short-term, pediatricians need to be aware of the possible effects of energy drinks in vulnerable populations and screen for consumption to educate families.”
The researchers recommended that additional studies be conducted focusing on identifying the potential long-term side effects of energy drinks, and that the sale and regulation of such products should be based upon comprehensive analysis.
The History of Energy Drinks
Although energy drinks marketed as alternatives to coffee have been around since the late eighties, it wasn’t until Red Bull hit the U.S. market in 1997 that the phenomenon really started to take off. After Red Bull became wildly successful with young people around the country, a number of beverage companies such as Pepsi and Coca Cola attempted to capitalize on the trend with beverages of their own. Popular energy drinks include:
- Hansen’s Energy
- Adrenaline Rush
- Extreme Energy
- 5-Hour Energy
The U.S. energy drink industry currently exceeds $10 billion a year, and the growth of the worldwide market is estimated to be nearly 20%. Beverage manufacturers are directing their attention to results-oriented marketing strategies and a greater push into emerging markets.
Energy Drink Side Effects
According to information gathered from the Pediatrics study, energy drinks are consumed by an estimated 30 to 50% of adolescents and young adults. Often containing extremely high and unregulated levels of caffeine, these beverages have been reportedly connected to serious side effects including:
- allergic reactions including rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the (mouth, face, lips, or tongue), diarrhea, shakiness, trouble sleeping, vomiting
- severe fatigue from withdrawal
- breast shrinkage in females
The risk for these types of side effects is greatly increased in children, adolescents, and young adults with the following health issues:
- cardiac abnormalities
- mood and behavioral disorders
- users of certain prescription medications
According to the Pediatrics study, of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in the U.S. in 2007, nearly half occurred in children under the age of 19. Considering the high number of adverse events associated with energy drinks, several states have considered restricting or even banning sales of the products outright.
How Dangerous Are Energy Drinks?
The new study comes at a time when the energy drink industry has been increasingly criticized by many in the healthcare community. In a January 2012 editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Amelia Arria from the University of Maryland School of Public Health and Mary Claire O’Brien from Wake Forest University School of Medicine claimed that energy drinks are“just as great a threat to individual and public health and safety” as the premixed alcoholic energy drinks recently deemed unsafe by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
“Although more research is necessary, so are proactive steps to protect public health,” said Arria and O’Brien. “To promote informed consumer choices, regulatory agencies should require specific labeling regarding caffeine content, with warnings about the risks associated with caffeine consumption in adolescents and in pregnant women as well as with explicit information about the potential risks associated with mixing energy drinks with alcohol.”
Do You Have an Energy Drink Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in energy drink lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new energy drink injury cases in all 50 states.
Free Energy Drink Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has suffered an injury after consuming an energy drink, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing an energy drink injury suit and we can help.