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Mixing alcohol and energy drinks more harmful than previously thought



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Energy drinks linked to
risky behavior among teenagers

The International Herald Tribune

by Tara Parker-Pope

May 27th, 2008

Health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teenagers and young adults: the energy drink.

Super-caffeinated energy drinks, with names like Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle and Amp, have surged in popularity in the past decade. About a third of 12- to 24-year-olds say they regularly down energy drinks, which account for more than $3 billion in annual sales in the United States.

The trend has been the source of growing concern among health researchers and school officials. Around the country, the drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits.

In Colorado Springs, several high school students last year became ill after drinking Spike Shooter, a high caffeine drink, prompting the principal to ban the beverages. In March, four middle school students in Broward County, Florida, went to the emergency room with heart palpitations and sweating after drinking the energy beverage Redline.


In Tigard, Oregon, teachers this month sent parents e-mail alerting them that students who brought energy drinks to school were “literally drunk on a caffeine buzz or falling off a caffeine crash.”

New research suggests the drinks are associated with a health issue far more worrisome than the jittery effects of caffeine — risk taking.


In March, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior.

The study’s author, Kathleen Miller, an addiction researcher at the University of Buffalo, says it suggests that

high consumption of energy drinks is associated with “toxic jock” behavior,

a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including

unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.

The finding doesn’t mean the drinks cause bad behavior. But the data suggest that regular consumption of energy drinks may be a red flag for parents that their children are more likely to take risks with their health and safety.

“It appears the kids who are heavily into drinking energy drinks are more likely to be the ones who are inclined toward taking risks,” Miller said.


The American Beverage Association says its members don’t market energy drinks to teenagers.

“The intended audience is adults,” said Craig Stevens, a spokesman. He says the marketing is meant for “people who can actually afford the two or three bucks to buy the products.”

The drinks include a variety of ingredients in different combinations: plant-based stimulants like guarana, herbs like ginkgo and ginseng, sugar, amino acids including taurine as well as vitamins.

But the main active ingredient is caffeine.

_________Very strong ... 925 Energy Shot

Caffeine content varies. A 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 34 to 38 milligrams for the same amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi.

Monster has 120 milligrams and Red Bull has 116. Higher on the spectrum, Spike Shooter contains 428 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces, and Wired X344 contains 258.


Stevens points out that “mainstream” energy drinks often have less caffeine than a cup of coffee. At Starbucks, the caffeine content varies depending on the drink, from 75 milligrams in a 12-ounce cappuccino or latte to as much as 250 milligrams in a 12-ounce brewed coffee.

One concern about the drinks is that because they are served cold, they may be consumed in larger amounts and more quickly than hot coffee drinks, which are sipped.

______________Less caffeine ... Red Bull Cola

Another worry is the increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. The addition of caffeine can make alcohol users feel less drunk, but motor coordination and visual reaction time are just as impaired as when they drink alcohol by itself, according to an April 2006 study in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


“You’re every bit as drunk, you’re just an awake drunk,” said Mary Claire O’Brien, associate professor in the departments of emergency medicine and public health services at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

O’Brien surveyed energy drink and alcohol use among college students at 10 universities in North Carolina. The study, published this month in Academic Emergency Medicine,

showed that students who mixed energy drinks with alcohol

got drunk twice as often as those who consumed alcohol

by itself and were far more likely to be injured or require

medical treatment while drinking.

_______________Lifts energy levels ... Boost

Energy drink mixers were more likely to be victims or perpetrators of aggressive sexual behavior. The effect remained even after researchers controlled for the amount of alcohol consumed.

Energy drink marketers say they don’t encourage consumers to mix the drinks with alcohol. Michelle Naughton, a spokeswoman for PepsiCo, which markets Amp, said,

“We expect consumers to enjoy our products responsibly.






Wired Magazine
June 26, 2007

Meat Sugar,


and Bile!





Like most

popular soft drinks,

Red Bull is largely

sugar water.


But don’t count on

its glucose to

“give you wings,”

as the ad says.


Multiple studies have

debunked the so-called

sugar high.





Also known as



taurine was originally

isolated from

bull bile in 1827.


Now made synthetically,

it is the magical elixir

said to bring out the

kitesurfing extremophile

in any Web-surfing nerd.


Taurine’s actual effects,

while not as drastic

as the hype,

are pretty wide-ranging,

even from the amount

found in a single can.


Not only is it an inhibitory


(in some cases acting

as a mild sedative)

and an age-defying


it even has the potential

to steady irregular







Internet rumors claimed

this was a Vietnam-era

experimental drug that

causes brain tumors.



that’s not true.


But don’t crumple up

your tinfoil hat yet —

hardly anyone has

looked into exactly

what this stuff does.


So little research

has been done on


(and most of it

50 years ago)

that almost all information

about it is mere rumor.


Users generally believe

it fights fatigue and

increases well-being,

but that could turn

out to be bull,





here are Red Bull’s



All the things this drink

is supposed to do

for you —

increase concentration

and reaction speed,

improve emotional state,

and boost metabolism —

are known effects of this

white powder,

a distant

cousin of cocaine.






Also known as

vitamin B-3,

niacin increases so-called

good cholesterol (HDL)

by preventing the formation

of triglycerides,

making it a terrific

cholesterol drug.



there isn’t enough niacin

here to have this benefit.


And it’s not even pure

enough to give you the

mild head rush dubbed

the “niacin flush.”




Sodium citrate

Commonly used as a

preservative in soft drinks

and spreadable cheeses,

sodium citrate also helps

convert glucose into

lactic acid during exercise,

producing a measurable

effect on athletic



In at least one test,

it shaved an average

of 17 seconds off

a 5K run.




A carbohydrate found

in animal muscle

(sometimes called

“meat sugar”),

inositol is turning out

to be a wonder drug

that significantly

reduces depression,

panic attacks,


and obsessive- compulsive



It might even be what

makes whole grains

effective cancer fighters.


Instead of being a bit

player in Red Bull

(you’d need to drink

as many as 360 cans

a day to get its benefits),

inositol probably deserves

a drink of its own.



One Response to “Mixing alcohol and energy drinks more harmful than previously thought”

  1. Turning Theory into Action

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