Caffeine-Containing Energy Drinks: Beginning to Address the Gaps in What We Know
Energy drinks are relatively new to the United States but are the fastest growing segment of the beverage market. Humans have a long history of consuming caffeine in traditional beverages, such as cocoa, coffee, tea, and yerba maté, but 2 workshops held at the Institute of Medicine in 2013 highlighted many critical gaps in understanding the biologic and behavioral effects of the mixtures of caffeine, vitamins, herbs, sugar or other sweeteners, and other ingredients that typify caffeine-containing energy drinks (CCEDs). For example, different surveys over the same 2010–2012 timeframe report discrepant prevalence of CCED use by teenagers, ranging from 10.3% in 13–17 y olds to >30% of those in grades 10 and 12. Understanding of functional interactions between CCED ingredients, drivers of use, and biologic and behavioral effects is limited. The 4 speakers in the Experimental Biology 2014 symposium titled “Energy Drinks: Current Knowledge and Critical Research Gaps” described recent progress by their groups in extending our understanding of prevalence of CCED use, sources of caffeine in the United States, drivers of CCED use, and behavioral correlations and effects of CCEDs, including effects on attractiveness of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Energy Drinks & The Heart: Know the Risks
According to some reports, up to half of children and young adults in the United States consume the beverages known as “energy drinks” or “energy shots,” which may contain three to five times the caffeine in a same-size can of soda. Even as their popularity has grown, energy drinks have come under scrutiny for possibly serious health effects, including heart rhythm problems, increased blood pressure, and—in rare cases—cardiac arrest.
The Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions
5 Health Problems
Linked to Energy Drinks
Concerns over the potentially harmful effects of energy drinks, especially when they’re combined with alcohol, have been growing in recent years.
A story in the New York Times today (Nov. 15) added to that concern, noting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received reports of 13 deaths linked to 5-Hour Energy, an energy drink. The drinks contain about 215 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of about two cups of coffee.
Here, a rundown of five worrisome health issues that have been linked to downing stimulating drinks:
Caffeine and other compounds in energy drinks can boost heart rate and blood pressure, said Dr. John Higgins, associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston.
However, there is not enough evidence to say unequivocally that energy drinks cause heart problems. More research is needed ...
The risk of miscarriage
The FDA has also received one report linking a miscarriage to consumption of 5-Hour Energy.
Because study findings have not been conclusive, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises that pregnant women limit caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day.
An increased risk of alcohol injury and dependence
Studies suggest that combining alcohol and energy drinks can be dangerous.
Although caffeine is a stimulant, research suggests it does not "counteract" the sedating effects of alcohol. There is concern that mixing alcohol and energy drinks ...
Risk of drug abuse
Another study of 1,060 students found that energy drink consumption in the second year of college was associated with an increased risk of prescription drug abuse (use of stimulants or prescription painkillers without a prescription) in the third year of college...
Although some students rely on energy drinks to pull all-nighters to study for exams, there’s some evidence that the excessive levels of caffeine in the drinks impair cognition. A small 2010 study found that drinking moderate amounts of caffeine, about 40 mg, improved performance on a test of reaction time, but drinking higher amounts — equivalent to the levels found in a (250 ml) can of Red Bull, or 80 mg — worsened performance on the reaction test.
What's important is that we get proper exercise and proper nutrition. Getting proper nutrition means eating good food!