Energy drinks can be a health hazard

THE harmful effects of energy drinks go beyond their caffeine content, and may adversely affect cardiac health.

There are more than 500 energy drink products available on the market, and, while both manufacturers and fans claim that these drinks are just as safe as caffeine, an increasing number of associated A and E visits, and deaths, say otherwise.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers caffeine doses of up to 400 mg as generally safe. Apart from caffeine, energy drinks were found to contain four ounces of sugar, several B vitamins, and an energy blend of taurine and other ingredients.

As part of a study, a team of researchers at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, enrolled 18 healthy participants, who were instructed to drink a commercially-available energy drink, and a formula with the same caffeine content, but none of the other ingredients.

The research team also measured the participants’ blood-pressure levels, and electrocardiogram readings (traces of the electrical activity of the heart).

The experts found that the participants’ blood-pressure levels rose by nearly five points, and remained high for up to six hours. In contrast, drinking the formula resulted in less than one point increase in blood-pressure levels.

While the changes did not appear worrisome for healthy individuals, the research team warned that people with heart conditions should exercise caution when consuming these beverages.

The energy-drink industry claims that their products are safe because they have no more caffeine than a premium, coffee-house coffee. However, energy drinks also contain a proprietary “energy blend”, which, typically, consists of stimulants and other additives. Some of these ingredients (including taurine and guarana) have not been FDA-approved as safe in the food supply, and few studies have tested the effects of caffeine consumption, together with these “novelty” ingredients.

On top of that, energy drinks are highly marketed to adolescent boys in ways that encourage risky behaviour, including rapid and excessive consumption. As a result, A and E visits by young people, in connection with energy drinks, are rising.

Energy drinks have been associated with elevated blood pressure in a number of studies. A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic, in the US, found that consuming one 16-ounce energy drink may raise blood-pressure levels and stress-hormone responses.

The research team examined 25 healthy participants, and found that apart from increased blood-pressure levels, the levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine simultaneously grew by nearly 74%, after consuming energy drinks.

An analysis in 2013 also noted that energy drinks triggered prolonged electrical activation in cardiac ventricles. This prolonged activation was associated with the onset of life-threatening arrhythmia. Drinking two cans of energy drink a day may raise blood pressure and heart rate in otherwise healthy adults.

Other side effects of this type of drink include:

Headaches and migraines

Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from  caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Increased anxiety

Some people are prone to feeling increased anxiety when consuming caffeinated beverages such as energy drinks. Larger doses of caffeine can even spur on full-blown panic attacks.


Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but, when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep altogether. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning, and it can be dangerous to drive, or perform other concentration-heavy tasks.

Type 2 diabetes

Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to Type 2 diabetes.

Drug interaction

Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications, especially those taken for depression.


People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to a lack of functioning when unable to have this type of drink, or financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks, daily.

Risky behaviour

A study published in The Journal of American College Health showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.

Jitters and nervousness

Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing necessary tasks, or cause emotional issues.


Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and oesophagus, if frequent.

Allergic reactions

Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks, reactions can occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.



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Posted by on Feb 1 2019. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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