Popular energy drinks have hidden risks

ENERGY drinks are hugely popular, but each
one could be giving you more caffeine than a
cup of coffee, a study said In addition, that caffeine could combine with
other ingredients in potentially risky ways,
with the use of energy drinks with alcohol a
particular concern. .


"What we know is that a typical energy drink
can have as much as a quarter cup of sugar, and
more caffeine than a strong cup .
of coffee," said John Higgins
of the University of Texas
Medical School at Houston,
who led a study that
appeared in this month’s’
Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
.
Caffeine content of energy
drinks ranges from
, 70 to 200 mg per 16-oz
serving. By comparison,                                                                              
scan0001
an 8-oz cup of coffee can
contain between 40 to 150
mg depending on how it’s
brewed.


Even more of an issue
is how ingredients often
not mentioned on the labels
– such as the herbal
stimulant guarana, the
amino acid taurine, and
other herbs, minerals and
vitamins might interact
with the caffeine, he told
Reuters Health.

‘The concern is how such
interaction might affect
heart rates, blood pressure
and even mental states, especially
when consumed in large
amounts, with alcohol, or by athletes. Higgins
and colleagues reviewed medical literature on
energy drinks and their’ ingredients between
1976 and 2010, only to find there has been little
research into their impact.

Some small studies, usually on physically
active young adults, have shown the drinks can
. .-
increase blood pressure and heart rates. But .
evidence of more serious effects such as heart
attacks, seizures and death are anecdotal, they
wrote.

Norway, Denmark and France banned Red
Bull after a study showed rats that "were fed
taurine and exhibited bizarre ‘behaviour, ineluding
anxiety and self-mutilation." "We’re
not rats, but consumption has been shown to be
positively associated with high-risk
behaviour," Higgins and his colleagues
wrote.

Energy drinks are often
promoted to, and used by,
athletes for an "extra push." .
But 1Higgins and his group
noted that based on the way
caffeine and some other
ingredients affect the body,
there’s a risk that energy
drinks can seriously dehydrate
users.

"The possibility of dehydration
and increased
blood pressure make water
or lower-octane sports
drinks, which contain electrolytes,
some minerals
. and carbohydrates, a better
choice," he added.
Non-athletes should
drink no more than one a
day, never mix them with
alcohol, and drink lots of 
water after exercising.

 
People with hypertension
should never drink them,
and people with health conditions
such as heart disease
should consult their doctors before
using the drinks. Regulation of the drinks could
go a long way toward solving potential problems,
Higgins added. "Manufacturers can put
whatever in them, advertise however and people
consume however. Whenever you have a
situation like this, you are going to run into
problems," he said. .. -YN

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