What’s the Problem?
A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics in February 2011 found that energy drinks have little to no real therapeutic benefit, and that many of their ingredients are unregulated and/or 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.
A Brief 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:
- 5-Hour Energy
- Monster Energy
- AMP Energy
- NOS Energy
- Redline Energy
- Hansen’s Energy
- Adrenaline Rush
- Amazon Energy Drinks
- Extreme 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.
Do Energy Drinks Even Work?
Although marketed as a quick and delicious way to get your amp on, the average energy drink gives you less of a kick than a cup of black coffee.
The relative ineffectiveness of energy drinks containing taurine and guarana has been known for years. But crafty drink makers have found increasingly creative ways to quench the public’s seemingly-endless thirst for energy. Don’t be fooled by their claims.
American culture is currently suffering from an energy crisis of a different kind: We’re consuming energy drinks at staggering rates, yet we’re lazier and more lethargic than ever. According to a new Mintel survey, sales of energy drink products have more than doubled over the past five years, with 35% of men ages 18 to 24 drinking them on a regular basis.
“Guys create an up-and-down trap with energy drinks and with whatever they take at night to help slow down,” says Matthew Edlund, M.D., author of The Power of Rest. “They never feel completely rested.”
Even worse, people caught up in this cycle may find themselves in the ER. The Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality reports that energy drink-related hospitalizations have become 10 times more common since 2005, the overwhelming majority of such patients being otherwise healthy young men.
“We don’t use our bodies the way they’re built to be used,” says Cecile Marczinski, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University. “We guzzle energy drinks and then can’t sleep at night. We sit all day and then read e-mails at 3 a.m.”
It’s no wonder, then, why so many Americans walk around like zombies, slaves to potentially-harmful stimulants we use like life support. As sales of energy drinks skyrocket along side heart rates, it seems like a good time to reevaluate our behaviors and find healthier ways to stay awake.
Decaf Energy Drinks
Over the years, a number of drink makers have become increasingly clever in their sales pitch – they take out an ingredient receiving negative publicity, and then market the product as a ‘healthier’ alternative to the original. First it was sugar, and now it’s caffeine. Popular energy drinks such as Hydrive and 5-Hour Energy now have decaf options. It’s a lucrative niche – nearly 40% of men who purchase energy drinks on a regular basis seek out caffeine-free alternatives.
Instead of caffeine, many of these products use B vitamins as their primary energy source. The decaffeinated version of 5-Hour Energy contains several thousand times your daily recommended B12 and B6, in addition to 100% of your folic acid requirements. But the fact of the matter is that you won’t get a jolt from the extra B vitamins, since the energy provided isn’t a stimulant like caffeine. They simply help extract fuel from the user’s food, which does not provide any noticeable increase in energy. Additionally, if you eat fortified foods or take a daily multivitamin, energy drinks could take you far past your folic acid allowance, which has the potential to increase your risk for cancer.
The energy trend is moving away from grande lattes and super-sized cans toward shrinking micro drinks. Last year, Americans spent nearly $1.5 billion on energy shots – more than 17 times the $73 billion they spent in 2006. So what’s the allure of a downsized energy drink? The false promise of hours of energy with just a few sips. The problem is that these shots pack all the punch of their full-size counterparts in just a couple of ounces, and many consumers find themselves drinking more than one at a time to keep themselves satiated.
But there’s a more effective – and more traditional – way to get energized before a night on the town. “Drink a lukewarm cup of coffee really quickly, and then close your eyes for 15 to 20 minutes,” says Michael Breus, Ph.D., a sleep specialist in Virginia Beach. “You’ll get enough rest to decrease your sleep drive. Then after you start moving again, the caffeine will kick in to keep you awake.”
Don’t want the caffeine? Just grab a protein-rich snack like a handful of almonds or peanuts before you go. Protein aids in insulin production, and insulin has a tangible energizing effect.
Energy Drink Side Effects
According to 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.”
Energy Drinks Can Damage Blood Vessels, Study Finds
September 23, 2019 – A recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that the blood vessel function of young adults decreased significantly after consuming just one energy drink. This effect could be even more dangerous when consumers use energy drinks before or during exercise, as the beverages reduce the diameter of blood vessels, restricting blood flow and oxygen delivery. Restricted blood flow may account for some cases of heart attack linked to energy drinks and physical activity, the researchers said.
New Study Links Energy Drinks to Heart Problems
May 31, 2019 – A recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA) has determined that ingredients found in many popular energy drinks — guarana, taurine, caffeine, among others — can radically elevate blood pressure, causing potentially deadly electrical malfunctions in the heart.
The researchers looked at the impact of energy drinks on electrocardiographic and hemodynamic parameters in young healthy volunteers. A cohort of 34 participants (age 22.1±3.0 years) were asked to consume 32 oz of either energy drink A, energy drink B, or placebo within 60 minutes on 3 study days with a 6‐day washout period in between. The authors concluded that energy drinks significantly prolong the QTc interval and raise blood pressure.
“Each individual ingredient on its own may generally be considered as safe, but when you put them together, what happens is where the question remains,” said Sachin Shah, professor of pharmacy at the University of the Pacific and co-author of the study.
Study Links Energy Drinks to Increased Death Risk
May 21, 2019 – A study published Friday in JAMA Network Open found that sugar-sweetened energy drinks and fruit juices — including 100% fruit juice — may significantly increase a person’s risk of death.
Most people agree that sugar-laden beverages such as energy drinks are generally unhealthy, but the new JAMA study demonstrates that fruit juices — frequently confused by many consumers to be good for you — contain in many cases just as much sugar as energy drinks, and are every bit as unhealthy.
For the study, a research team led by Jean Welsh, associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine, collected data on 13,440 men and women who were part of a large stroke study from 2003 to 2007.
Among these participants, the median age was 64 years old, and 71% were considered to be obese or overweight, the researchers found.
The cohort was asked to provide data on how many sugar-sweetened drinks they consumed. Over an average of 6 years, 1,168 of the participants in the study died.
The researchers determined that those who drank the most sugary beverages—including 100% fruit juice—had a significantly increased risk of dying during the study, compared with those who drank the least.
“Efforts to decrease consumption of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages should also include fruit juices, and these efforts need to include adults as well as children,” Welsh said.
Energy Drink Risks
Energy drinks are among the most popular beverages on the market today, despite being linked to serious health risks and numerous reports of injuries and even death. Here is what you need to know about how and when to consume energy drinks.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between energy drinks and sports drinks. Energy drinks contain varying amounts of caffeine, taurine, guarana, amino acids, vitamins and sugar that are designed to provide the user with a mental and physical “boost.” Sports drinks, on the other hand, contain carbohydrates in the form of sugars and glucose, as well as electrolytes to replace chemicals lost through sweat.
The main difference between the 2 is the caffeine and other often unregulated stimulants contained in energy drinks. Many of the beverages also claim to include amino acids and vitamins, which together with the carbohydrates, caffeine and stimulants are marketed as increasing performance, concentration and endurance.
The problem is that most energy drinks are loaded with sugar, and in some cases contain over 27 grams per serving. This means that drinking more than 1 energy drink at a time can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, and even increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Over-consumption of the beverages may also overstimulate the central nervous system (CNS) and cause restlessness, anxiety and irritability. Energy drinks typically contain up to 300 mg of caffeine, which can result in high blood pressure (hypertension) and increased heart rate (tachycardia).
These effects can hinder the regulation of body temperature, reduce plasma volume and upset the vascular system. Excessive consumption of energy drinks — as well as mixing them with alcohol — can lead to overdose and even death.
According to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), “the phenomenon of mixing energy drinks with alcohol, stimulants and other co-ingestants is clearly a serious concern,” and that “consumers are likely to be unaware of the variation in chemical composition and caffeine dosage in energy drinks, and with little or no warnings on products, the potential for overdose and poisoning remains ever-present.”
Furthermore, caffeine toxicity can mimic amphetamine poisoning and cause seizures, psychosis, cardiac arrhythmias and other serious side effects. Healthier ways of promoting natural energy include eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi Launch New Energy Drink Products as Soda Consumption Falls
July 24, 2019 – As soda consumption continues to decline nationwide, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are attempting to leverage their massive name recognition in order to cash in on the growing energy drink market, according to CNBC. Coke plans to sell Coca-Cola Energy in 20 countries by the end of this year, while Pepsi is continuing to push its Mountain Dew line into the energy drink category.
Total energy drink sales in the U.S. jumped nearly 30% from 2013 to 2018, reaching an estimated $13.5 billion in sales last year, according to Mintel data. Energy drinks, which represent 92% of the energy market, are entirely responsible for that growth, Mintel found.
Energy Drinks Linked to Kidney Disease Risk, Study Finds
January 8, 2019 – A new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has identified yet another link between the consumption of sugar-laden energy drinks and an increased risk for kidney disease.The study involved a cohort of about 3,000 African American men and women with normal kidney function, and included another study on risk factors for other diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. The results indicated that one-third of the cohort that drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages were 61% more likely to develop a chronic kidney disease (CKD) than the third who drank the least.
The study involved a cohort of about 3,000 African American men and women with normal kidney function, and included another study on risk factors for other diseases such as heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. The results indicated that one-third of the cohort that drank the most sugar-sweetened beverages were 61% more likely to develop a chronic kidney disease (CKD) than the third who drank the least.
A report published in the Clinical Journal of the American Nephrology Society (CJASN) affirmed that the study’s findings would contribute to the growing body of literature suggesting clear health risks associated with the sugary beverages.
Despite the study’s findings, lead author, Casey Rebholz, told ScienceDaily that the research did not accurately gauge the severe potential health risks associated with consumption of the wide range of energy drinks on the market.
He continued: “there is little information about the types of beverages and the types of beverages that are associated with the risk of kidney disease in particular.”
The cultural resistance to reducing energy drink consumption can be likened to the phenomenon of cigarette smoking in the 1960s after the publication of the Surgeon General report. During the 1960s, smoking was considered a social option and not a medical or public health problem.
In the early 1960s, more than 40% of American adults smoked. The number was 14% in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
FDA Bans Caffeine Sold in Bulk Following 2 Deaths
April 16, 2018 – The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is banning the sale of pure and bulk caffeine products after 2 young men died from an accidental overdose. Dietary supplements that contain pure or highly concentrated caffeine in powder or liquid forms “present a significant public health threat,” FDA said in a Public Health Alert.
“For most children and youth, sports drinks are unnecessary,” said Dr. Catherine Pound, co-author of the statement and a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Energy drinks are unnecessary at best and dangerous at worst.”
Caffeine in Energy Drinks Linked to Heart Side Effects
The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks may lead to severe cardiac complications, according to a new case report published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
The report looked at the case of a 28-year-old man hospitalized after vomiting blood. The patient’s only abnormality (other than obesity) was a rapid heart rate (tachycardia) — approximately 130 beats per minute.
An electrocardiogram revealed atrial fibrillation (a-fib), a common type of arrhythmia that can cause serious complications if left untreated. Subsequent testing found no other heart problems.
The man said he typically consumed 2 Monster energy drinks per day (320 milligrams of caffeine), in addition to 2 to 3 beers. No other causes of a-fib were apparent.
With prescription medications, the patient’s condition improved over 48 hours. Endoscopy revealed a tear in the stomach and esophagus, likely caused by forced vomiting. The man was discharged from the hospital in stable condition; at one year’s follow-up, he had no additional symptoms of a-fib.
Although a number of factors might have contributed to the patient’s condition, the researchers concluded that “We believe that energy drink consumption played a key role,” noting that the 160 milligrams in a single Monster energy drink is about 4 times higher than in a caffeinated soft drink.
The study’s authors reviewed the existing medical literature and found at least 8 cases of cardiovascular events associated with energy drinks like Monster and Red Bull. Mechanisms by which the high caffeine content of these products might lead to cardiovascular events include other ingredients such as taurine which could heighten the effects of caffeine, using energy drinks along with alcohol or drugs, and high stress levels.
This and other studies are “suggestive but not conclusive” that the caffeine in energy drinks may cause abnormal heart rhythms and other cardiac side effects. “We suggest that arrhythmia could be a complication of energy drink consumption,” the researchers said. They recommended that healthcare providers inquire about energy drink consumption in otherwise healthy young patients with unexplained heart problems.
Energy Drinks Could Poison Children: Study
A recent study conducted by the Pediatric Chair for Wayne State University and DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan suggests that energy drinks have the potential to be dangerous and even deadly, citing nearly 5,000 incident reports to emergency rooms associated with the beverages.
Among the study’s findings:
- More than 40% of reports to the National Poison Data System for “energy drink exposure” in a 3-year span involved children younger than 6.
- Reported side effects associated with energy drinks included abnormal heart rhythms and seizures.
- Researchers call for better labeling of energy drinks’ high caffeine content and resulting health consequences.
“This disproportionate representation of children is concerning given the number of reports of serious cardiac and neurological symptoms,” said Steven Lipshultz, M.D., senior author of the study. “Energy drinks have no place in pediatric diets, and anyone with underlying cardiac, neurologic or other significant medical conditions should check with their health care provider to make sure it’s safe to consume energy drinks.”
Monster Energy Drink Lawsuits
In the early morning hours of June 25, 2012, Shane Felts died after consuming Monster energy drinks. “About 2:00 or 2:30 [am], I heard a thump, he was on the floor in the bathroom,” said Felts’ wife Heather. She and her 2 sons rushed him to the hospital.
“It’s just like the movies; a doctor kneels down in the front of you and says ‘I’m sorry, we did everything we could but he’s gone,’” she said.
Felts filed a lawsuit in August 2014 alleging that Monster energy drinks contributed to the wrongful death of her husband.
The case is: Felts v. Monster Beverage Corporation et al, Case No. 4:2014cv00758, filed August 22, 2014 at Missouri Western District Court.
Meanwhile, another Monster Energy Drink Lawsuit is set to go to trial in early May 2015. Alex Morris, 19, died from a cardiac arrest in July 2012 after consuming Monster products. According to the complaint, Alex consumed at least two 16 oz. cans of Monster Energy Drink in the 24 hours before his death, and at least two 16 oz cans per day during the three years preceding his death.
The coroner listed the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy, with autopsy reports confirming there were no illegal drugs or alcohol in Morris’ system when he died.
The lawsuit alleges Monster “failed to warn consumers of the true risks, scope and severity of potential side effects of the Monster drinks that Alex Morris consumed such as increased risk of stroke, blood clots, heart attack and cardiac arrhythmia.”
This is the second Monster Drink Lawsuit to go to trial. Monster Beverage Corp. settled a previous case during trial. In all cases, the defendant has denied any wrongdoing.
Mother of Three Collapses After Energy Drink Habit Causes Heart Blockage
May 10, 2019 – A 33-year-old British mother collapsed after a 6-per-day energy drink addiction caused her to develop severe heart blockage, according to the Metro UK.
Leading up to her collapse, Samantha Sharpe had been experiencing increasingly severe blackouts as her addiction to energy drinks grew out of control, culminating in an event doctors later determined was caused by second degree heart blockage. The mother of three is now required to wear a pacemaker for the rest of her life.
In addition to her troubling energy drink fix, Sharp also has kidney stones and was diagnosed as pre-diabetic due to her massive sugar intake, Metro reports. So were the energy drinks ruled to be the sole cause of her health condition? No, but 6 of the sugar-laden beverages per day could not have done much to help.
Fresh off a potentially life-threatening health scare, Hamilton has made it her personal mission to warn others of the dangers of energy drinks.
“My sister, who is a nurse, said the addiction is worse than that of heroin, which I can understand because I needed it to help me be awake,” Sharpe said.
Many people use energy drinks much the same as Miss Sharp, as a crutch to rely on to help get them through their day. However, these highly caffeinated beverages can cause severe cardiac side effects including sudden death, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology (CJS). An international research team led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar of Madrid, Spain, said the main concern with energy drinks is that they can easily aggravate underlying heart issues and cause life-threatening arrhythmias in the hearts of the consumers who drink them.
South Carolina Parents Push for Energy Drink Ban After Son’s Death
May 1, 2019 – A bill that would ban the sale of energy drinks to minors in South Carolina passed a subcommittee of lawmakers on Friday, sponsored by a couple whose son allegedly died after drinking too much caffeine. Davis Cripe, the 16-year-old who died, allegedly drank a coffee, soda and energy drink in the hours leading to his death.
Bill H.4352 was filed by Representative Leon Howard (D-Richland) and Representative Chip Huggins (R-Lexington), according to WTOL 11 CBS. The bill was supported by Sean and Heidi Cripe, Davis’s parents.
“He loved life. He lived it loud,” Sean Cripe said to an NBC affiliate in Columbia, South Carolina. “He had drank an energy drink before class and he had gotten sick really quick. Within a matter of minutes, he had lost his life.”
Davis drank 3 heavily-caffeinated beverages — a cafe latte, large Diet Mountain Dew and an unspecified energy drink — in the 2 hours before he collapsed in his high school classroom and died. He collapsed around 2:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m., CBS said.
H.4352, now having passed the medical affairs committee, will advance to the full House, despite opposition.
Energy Drink Side Effects Responsible for Death of 25-Year-Old, Suit Claims
December 18, 2017 – Anton Omelin drank Red Bull, NOS and Monster Energy before he collapsed and died on Oct. 30, 2014, according to a new lawsuit filed in Tacoma, Washington. The suit alleges that the defendants — Red Bull, Monster, and the Hansen Beverage Co. — failed to adequately warn consumers against the risk of alcohol use with energy drinks or during vigorous exercise.
Teens Should Avoid Energy Drinks due to Health Risks, Canadian Health Officials Warn
September 26, 2017 – Most children and teenagers should not consume sports and energy drinks, as the health risks associated with the beverages are too great to ignore, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) warned Tuesday.
In a new statement, CPS said energy and sports drinks are high in sugar, which contributes to weight gain and dental problems.
The products are marketed to increase energy levels and reduce fatigue, but what goes up must invariably come down, with that initial jolt followed by a crash a short time later. Caffeine also affects children differently than it does adults, due to their size and weight.
“For most children and youth, sports drinks are unnecessary,” said Dr. Catherine Pound, co-author of the statement and a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “Energy drinks are unnecessary at best and dangerous at worst. Doctors should counsel patients and their families about the potential risks and side effects of using these beverages and should screen routinely for their use.”
Pound said too many caffeinated energy drinks in a short period of time can cause a host of serious side effects, particularly in children with underlying health conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Serious side effects effects of caffeine include anxiety, sleeping problems, heart rhythm disturbances, overdose and even death. Mild side effects include irritability, vomiting and diarrhea, Pound said.
CPA recommended that doctors should:
- Ask children and teens about their sports and energy drink consumption
- Ask whether they mix alcohol with caffeinated energy drinks
- Educate the public about the potential health risks posed by caffeinated energy drinks
Energy Drinks Worse for Your Heart than Caffeine Alone, Study Finds
April 27, 2017 – A new study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association (AHA) has linked the side effects of energy drinks to an increased risk for heart problems beyond those seen with caffeine alone. The researchers suspect that the “proprietary blend” of ingredients in commercial energy drinks may prolong caffeine’s activity in the body, prevent it from being excreted, or that these substances “may have activity of their own above and beyond caffeine.”
The study compared a caffeinated drink mixture to a commercial energy drink that also contains caffeine. The results indicated that caffeine alone may not be responsible for the heart health problems associated with the beverages.
“For the 1 in 3 Americans who already have hypertension, this increase in blood pressure from consuming energy drinks could pose a potentially serious risk,” said Emily A. Fletcher, Pharm.D., lead author of the study.
Test subjects included 18 healthy men and women ages 18 to 40. Half were given a 32-ounce serving of an unspecified commercially available energy drink. The others received a control drink: 32 ounces of carbonated water, cherry syrup, lime juice, and caffeine.
Each beverage contained 320 mg of caffeine, but the energy drink also contained a “proprietary energy blend,” a mix that included B vitamins, amino acids taurine and L-carnitine, the sugar alcohol inositol, and plant compounds such as panax ginseng extract and guarana extract.
The study’s authors measured the electrical activity of the subjects’ hearts and their systolic blood pressure immediately before consumption of the drink, and 1, 2, 4, 6, and 24 hours later.
At 2 hours, the hearts of the test subjects who were given energy drinks showed evidence of QTc prolongation, a condition sometimes associated with life-threatening changes in the heartbeat. The control group did not experience these side effects.
Fletcher suspects that the “proprietary blend” of ingredients in the commercial energy drink may prolong caffeine’s activity in the body, prevent it from being excreted, or that these substances “may have activity of their own above and beyond caffeine.”
Study Finds Energy Drinks, Alcohol a Dangerous Combo
March 23, 2017 – Mixing alcohol with caffeinated energy drinks may create an inebriation which increases the risk of severe injury, according to a new study.
The study, which was published in this month’s Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found that the risk of injury could be 20 times greater when people drink alcohol mixed with energy drinks.
“When we look at alcohol alone, there’s a clear dose-response relationship,” said lead researcher Audra Roemer. “When you drink more, the risk goes up.”
A person who has one or two alcoholic beverages doubles their risk of injury compared to when they are sober, and with six drinks that risk is increased six times. But when alcohol is mixed with energy drinks, the risk of injury can be up to 20 times greater.
“It’s quite a bit higher than drinking alcohol on its own,” Romer said.
For the study, the researchers looked at 13 peer-reviewed articles on the risk of injury with the use of alcoholic energy drinks. Ten articles showed evidence of an increased risk of injury from intentional behavior, such as violence or attempted suicide, or accidental acts such as tripping or car crashes, compared with drinking alcohol by itself.
“The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the sedative effects of alcohol,” Romer said. “Usually, when you’re drinking alcohol, you eventually get tired and you go home. Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol and engage in risky behaviour and more hazardous drinking practices.”
It has been estimated that the number of visits to emergency departments involving energy drinks nearly doubled from 2007 to 2011. The researchers caution that additional studies are needed to determine the extent of the increased risk of injury when alcohol is consumed with energy drinks.
Mother Wants Stricter Regulations Over Sale of Energy Drinks After Son’s Death
February 27, 2017 – Cheryl James is blaming Monster Nitrous for the 2010 death of her 19-year-old son Drew, according to “Action News Jax”.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” James said. “Something caused that heart attack and it wasn’t an underlying heart problem.”
Although Cheryl James has not filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy Corp., she wants her local school district in Central Florida to ban the sale of all energy drinks.
Local emergency departments told Local 6 they have seen an increase in energy drink-related hospitalizations. Common side effects include heart palpitations, insomnia and anxiety.
A study published in the journal Pediatrics in March 2011 found that teens make up 30 to 50% of the Energy Drink market, and accounted for nearly half of the caffeine overdoses reported in 2007.
Another study (PDF) conducted by the Substances Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that the number of emergency room visits associated with non-alcoholic energy drinks has skyrocketed from just over 1,100 in 2005 to more than 13,000 in 2009, an increase of over 1000%.
Officials won’t say that Drew James’ death was caused by Monster Energy, and instead hint that underlying or unknown heart problems may be to blame. However, the young man’s untimely passing has sparked concerns about the risks of caffeine poisoning.
Energy drinks typically contain between 80 and 500 milligrams of caffeine per can or bottle. By comparison, a 5 ounce cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams. A 12 ounce can of Coke has 50 milligrams.
Monster Energy Drink Killed My Son, Dad Says
January 17, 2017 – The family of a Washington man who died suddenly on Oct. 30 has filed a lawsuit against 3 different energy drink manufacturers in connection with the death.
The deceased, 25-year-old Anton Omelin, regularly drank Red Bull, NOS and Monster Energy before his death on Oct. 30, 2014, according to the lawsuit. Anton’s wife Anna claims that her husband drank at least four 16-ounce cans per day.
Anna filed the complaint against Red Bull, Monster, and the Hansen Beverage Co., which does business as Monster and also distributes NOS drinks.
According to the lawsuit, Anton brought home cognac, fruits and chocolates to celebrate after learning that he would be taking over the family business on the day of his death. He’d taken 2-3 shots of the liquor and consumed two 16-ounce cans of Red Bull by 9 pm, according to Anna. The next morning, she found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor in a pool of vomit. Emergency response workers pronounced him dead shortly thereafter.
The suit alleges that the manufacturers failed to adequately warn consumers against the risk of alcohol use with energy drinks or during vigorous exercise. Such warnings would have deterred Anton Omelin from engaging in such risky activities, the complaint states.
Plaintiff suggests energy drink warnings should include:
- “Do not use with alcohol and while exercising.”
- “Do not exceed two drinks in a 24-hour period.”
- “May cause cardiovascular problems, nausea, vomit, insomnia and death.”
Defendants claim that their products are safe for consumption, and that studies purporting to show an increased risk from normal use are bogus.
Army Issues Warning on Energy Drink Side Effects
January 5, 2017 – The U.S. military is warning troops not to consume too many energy drinks, saying it could do “some serious harm to your body.”
A post on the pentagon’s official science blog last week details the health risks of energy drinks, citing a study which found that soldiers were more likely to fall asleep on duty if they consumed multiple beverages a day.
For the study, researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research looked at data from over 1,000 soldiers and Marines conducting operations in Afghanistan in 2010. They found that approximately 45% of deployed military personnel consumed at least one energy drink per day, while nearly 14% reported drinking three or more of the beverages daily.
“These products generally are unregulated and can have negative side effects,” the researchers said. “Those who drank three or more drinks a day also were more likely to report sleep disruption related to stress and illness and were more likely to fall asleep during briefings or on guard duty.”
The military has used various methods to keep troops awake in combat, from instant coffee to caffeine-infused chewing gum in military rations. Energy drinks have recently become a staple in war zones across the globe, with many operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan maintaining large supplies of the beverages.
Although the Army’s warning is specified for troops currently serving, it is still relevant for all consumers, as the energy drinks many of us rely on to stay awake are loaded with caffeine and sugar.
Energy drinks contain an average of 27 grams of sugar each, which is two grams more than the recommended daily allowance for women. If you drink two of the beverages per day, you’ve already have twice your recommended sugar intake.
Excessive sugar consumption can lead to a variety of health problems including weight gain, abdominal obesity, elevated blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes.
Redline Energy Linked to Stroke in Alabama Man
November 29, 2016 – Doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) have documented a case of stroke linked to Redline Energy Drink. The patient, a 57-year-old man with a history of high blood pressure, reported consuming an 8 oz. bottle of Redline about 15 minutes before suffering a brain bleed that caused tingling and shakiness in his arms and legs.
Study Finds Link Between Energy Drinks and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Teens
Researchers have identified a link between increased brain injuries in teenagers and the consumption of energy drinks or energy drinks mixed with alcohol, according to a new study published in PLOS ONE.
For the study, researchers looked at how often 10,000 people aged 11 to 20 consumed energy drinks, and whether they had experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) — a blow to the head that left them unconscious for at least 5 minutes, or resulted in hospitalization.
“We’ve found a link between increased brain injuries and the consumption of energy drinks or energy drinks mixed with alcohol,” said Michael Cusimano, MD, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital and lead author of the study.
Cusimano added that energy drinks can interfere with the recovery process for teens who have suffered a brain injury. Most study participants said their TBI occurred while playing sports, he said.
Additionally, the study found that teens who had a TBI within the previous year were at least twice as likely to have consumed energy drinks mixed with alcohol compared to those who reported sustaining a TBI more than a year ago. The researchers cautioned that additional studies are needed to better understand the link between energy drinks and brain injury, and to investigate why teens are consuming the beverages so voraciously. The combining of alcohol and energy drinks merits special concern, according to the authors.
About 22% of students said they had experienced at least one TBI in their life, with 6% claiming they suffered a brain injury in the past year.
Most of the popular energy drinks like Rockstar and Red Bull contain high levels of caffeine and cause chemical changes in the body. Additionally, most of the ads for energy drinks feature athletes and are targeted at active young consumers.
Prior studies have shown that traumatic brain injuries are associated with poor academic performance, mental health problems, violence, substance abuse and aggression in teens and adults, all of which can interfere with rehabilitation, according to the authors.
Man’s Energy Drink Habit Led to Hepatitis, Study Finds
The patient, a previously healthy 50-year-old man, reported experiencing malaise and anorexia, which progressed to nausea and vomiting after drinking 4 to 5 energy drinks per day at his construction job. The man’s gastrointestinal symptoms initially led him to think he had the flu, but dark urine and yellowed skin indicated that it was something more serious.
The man reported no changes in diet, alcohol, tobacco or illicit drugs, which suggests the energy drinks were the likely cause of his illness. Tests found that the patient had jaundice, upper abdominal tenderness and elevated liver enzymes, all of which are symptoms of liver damage. A subsequent liver biopsy confirmed a diagnosis of acute hepatitis.
Hepatitis is characterized by inflammation of the liver, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There are five main hepatitis viruses, types A, B, C, D and E. These five types are of greatest concern because of the burden of illness and death they cause, as well as their potential for outbreaks and epidemic. Types B and C in particular can lead to chronic liver disease, and are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.
Each bottle of the man’s energy drink contained 40 milligrams of niacin (200% of the recommended daily allowance), which means that he was ingesting 160 to 200 milligrams of niacin daily. While this level is theoretically below the threshold for toxicity, it is similar to that of a previously reported case of hepatitis linked to energy drinks, according to the researchers.
Doctors monitored the patient and helped treat his symptoms. His symptoms disappeared after he stopped consuming energy drinks, and doctors recommended that he avoid any similar niacin-rich products in the future.
Drug-induced liver injury causes about 50% of liver failure cases in the U.S., according to the researchers. The explosion in popularity of dietary and herbal supplements has contributed to the number of drugs and toxins that can lead to these problems.
“As the energy drink market continues to rapidly expand, consumers should be aware of the potential risks of their various ingredients,” the researchers concluded. “Vitamins and nutrients, such as niacin are present in quantities that greatly exceed the recommended daily intake, lending to their high risk for harmful accumulation and toxicity.”
Report Calls for Steps to Reduce Energy Drink Consumption Among Children
July 25, 2016 – A report from the UK’s Food Research Collaboration is calling for increased measures to prevent excessive consumption of energy drinks among children and young people. The report found that consumption of energy drinks among young people is increasing globally, and predicted that the 10-14 year old consumer group will grow by at least 11% from 2014-2019.
It also said that 68% of adolescents (11-18 years old) consumed energy drinks, with 11% drinking at least 1 liter at a time. Among children 10-years-old and younger, 18% consume energy drinks and 12% drink at least 1 liter per session.
The report references studies that link energy drinks to health problems including headaches, stomach aches and sleeping difficulties.
It notes that “there are significant gaps in the evidence base around the health impact of energy drinks. However, the evidence that has emerged so far indicates some effects worrying enough for policy makers and civil society in the UK to take notice and develop a plan for action.”
The British government is scheduled to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2018 in an attempt to curb childhood obesity. However, the researchers noted the high content of both sugar and caffeine in many popular energy drinks.
A single can of energy drink can contain 160 mg of caffeine, more than the daily recommended intake for an 11-year-old, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The report makes the following recommendations to curb energy drink consumption among young people:
- Each education authority could have an official responsible for implementing energy drink strategies across all schools.
- Every local health authority could have a shared policy and strategy on energy drinks and kids.
- Local authorities could use existing powers in licensing, trading standards and planning, which could limit the sale and consumption of energy drinks by young people.
- The legalization on the labeling of energy drinks could be reinforced to improve communication about the dangers of caffeine and sugar consumption for children.
- Energy drinks marketed to children could be made illegal.
- The government could consider setting limits on the sugar and caffeine content of energy drinks.
- Legislation could be implemented to ban the sale of energy drinks to children, similar to alcohol and tobacco.
Just One Energy Drink May Increase Heart Risks, Study Finds
November 8, 2015 – Consuming a single energy drink can cause short-term changes in healthy adults that could increase their risk of heart disease over time, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The researchers found significant increases in both systolic blood pressure and norepinephrine levels in test subjects who consumed energy drinks.
Do I Have an Energy Drink Lawsuit?
The Pharmaceutical 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 investigating new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one has been injured by energy drink side effects, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.