Energy Drinks Create Unhealthy Increase in Blood Pressure & Heart Rate -- And Pose These Other Risks
Over 30 percent of teenagers, and 34 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds,
consume energy drinks on a regular basis, according to a report
by the Marin Institute. These drinks are heavily marketed
to teens as a harmless way to boost energy, but in reality
they've been linked to serious health effects.
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can mask the effects
of alcohol, allowing you to drink more and increasing
your risk of alcohol-related injuries and harm.
Still, in 2006 alone, energy drinks brought in more than
$3.2 billion in sales, and up to 500 new energy drink products
were introduced worldwide. And sales continue to grow, despite
the largely unpublicized risks.
The obvious danger stems from the high levels of caffeine
(some energy drinks contain up to 300 mg of caffeine, compared
with 80 mg for a typical cup of coffee), which can lead to:
Meanwhile, ingesting 500 mg or more of caffeine (the amount
easily ingested in four to eight servings of typical energy
drinks) can lead to caffeine intoxication that can cause:
However, there are even more concerning risks surrounding
these drinks that parents and teens need to be aware of.
Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Mix
Energy drinks are commonly used as mixers for alcoholic drinks
in bars and nightclubs, and there are now new pre-mixed alcoholic
energy drinks on the market.
The dangerous combination of mixing energy drinks, a stimulant,
with alcohol, a depressant, has proven deadly.
"It is scary to think that these energy drinks are being
used as a mixer with vodka and whiskey," said David Pearson,
a researcher in the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State
University. "You are just overloading the body with heavy
stimulants and heavy depressants."
The resulting mix can lead to cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular
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Meanwhile, researchers from North Carolina's Wake Forest
University revealed that mixing alcohol and energy drinks
increases students' risk of harm.
After surveying over 4,000 U.S. students, they found that
those who drank alcoholic energy drink cocktails were more
These harmful effects occurred because the energy drinks
masked much of the alcohol's intoxicating effects, which allowed
students to drink for longer periods.
"Students whose motor skills, visual reaction times,
and judgment impaired by alcohol may not perceive that they
are intoxicated as readily when they're also ingesting a stimulant,"
said lead researcher Dr Mary Claire O'Brien. "Only the
symptoms of drunkenness are reduced -- but not the drunkenness.
They can't tell if they're drunk, they can't tell if someone
else is drunk. So they get hurt, or they hurt someone else."
Dangers to People With Heart Disease or High Blood Pressure
Drinking two cans a day of an energy drink is enough to increase
your blood pressure and heart rate, according Wayne State
In a study of 15 healthy volunteers who drank two energy
drinks a day for seven days:
Maximum systolic blood pressure increased by 7.9 percent
on day one and 9.6 percent on day seven
Diastolic blood pressure increased by 7 percent on day
one and 7.8 percent on day seven
Heart rate increased by 7.8 percent on day one and 11
percent on day seven
"This occurred while participants were sitting in chairs
watching movies," said James Kalus, Pharm.D., senior
manager of Patient Care Services at Henry Ford Hospital in
Detroit, Michigan, who led the study. "The increases
in heart rate and blood pressure weren't enough for something
to happen acutely, but a person on hypertension medication
or who has cardiovascular disease may not respond as well."
The adverse effects were significant enough that the researchers
recommended people with high blood pressure or heart disease
avoid energy drinks.
However, if you're a teenager or a parent of a teen, you may
want to limit energy drinks regardless. The evidence on their
dangers continue to mount, and it appears that even a
simple cup of coffee is a safer bet if you're looking
for an energy boost. Better yet, if you're feeling a little
sluggish, you can try these eight
healthy foods that will provide you with a major energy kick.
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Marin Institute: Alcohol, Energy Drinks and Youth: A Dangerous
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