New research suggests that energy drinks are even more dangerous than we originally thought, especially when consumed by younger people. A new study says that kids and teenagers are at a higher risk due to the excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine these beverages contain.
Energy Drinks Cause Hypertension and Hyperactivity
For a study published recently in the medical journal Pediatric Emergency Care, researchers queried young people between the ages of 12 and 18 about their energy drink consumption in two hospital emergency departments over a period of two years.
The researchers found that out of the 612 teens who responded, 38 percent were frequent drinkers of energy drinks. Among those consuming the beverages, 47 percent claimed to have felt angry after drinking them, 22 percent said they had some difficulty breathing, and a whopping 76 percent said they experienced at least one headache in the previous six months.
While the researchers admit it’s impossible to put the blame entirely on energy drinks, they believe the symptoms reported were more likely to occur when the respondents consumed the drinks than when they didn’t. Despite the adverse side effects, the adolescents surveyed felt that energy drinks helped them to better focus at school or play better when participating in sports activities.
The study also noted that the drinks can contribute to not insomnia because the caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants keep consumers awake longer.
Energy Drink Ingredients Linked to Hepatitis C
On November 16, 2016, Time magazine reported that the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a case report describing an occurrence of acute hepatitis that might have been caused by excessive consumption of energy drinks.
The man told physicians that he was consuming four-to-five energy drinks a day.
A 50-year-old man went to the hospital complaining of fatigue, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, and abdominal pain. Upon further examination, doctors found that the man had yellowing of his skin, which indicated a case of acute Hepatitis C.
The man told physicians that he was not taking any prescription medication, but was consuming four-to-five energy drinks per day. An ultrasound revealed that the man was also experiencing abnormal liver and gall bladder functions.
Dr. Vikas Khullar, a University of Florida fellow in Gastroenterology and Hepatology, told Time, “Moderation is key” when it comes to consuming energy drinks.
“Often energy drinks contain a energy blend which is a combination of herbal supplements as well as vitamins in often greater levels than the recommended daily intake,” Dr. Khullar said. “Further research may be needed to determine appropriate use and dosages.”
Companies Still Insist Energy Drinks are Safe
While energy drink companies continue to insist that the products they make are safe, more and more evidence suggests otherwise. Besides caffeine and sugar, they also contain other substances that have not been adequately tested for safety.
The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not mixing energy drinks with alcohol, as the combination can often intensify feelings of drunkenness and lead to dangerous behavior. Other organizations have petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add warning labels to the packaging, but so far the agency has abstained.
While more research is necessary to definitively assess the dangers of energy drinks, it is best to follow Dr. Khullar’s advice by consuming them only in moderation, or better yet, not consuming them at all.