Just a couple of days ago we wrote about the growing concerns among health experts about the safety of energy drinks. Well, no sooner had we put down our proverbial pens than a new group of scientists came out with some words of warning about the caffeine-packed beverages.
This latest alert comes from researchers at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. They’ve spent decades researching the effects of caffeine on people and say these drinks need to carry warning labels, so people know about their potential health risks.
They say a survey of almost 500 college students in 2007 found that 51 percent reported consuming at least one energy drink during the previous month. Of those, 29 percent reported “weekly jolt and crash episodes” and 19 percent reported experiencing heart palpitations after drinking the beverages.
An even more worrying finding is that 27 percent of the students reported mixing the energy drinks with alcohol at least once in the past month.
“Alcohol adds another level of danger,” according to Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., one of the authors of the study, in a news release issued by Johns Hopkins. “Because caffeine in high doses can give users a false sense of alertness that provides incentive to drive a car or in other ways to put themselves in danger.”
The researchers point out that products that contain caffeine and are sold over-the-counter are required to have a warning label yet energy drinks do not.
A regular 12 ounce drink of Coke or Pepsi has about 35 milligrams of caffeine, and a 6 ounce cup of coffee has around 80 to 150 milligrams. In contrast the caffeine content of energy drinks can vary from 50 to 500 milligrams. Because these are often drunk quickly that produces a much more rapid infusion of caffeine into the system.
As we told you earlier this week, there are studies showing excess caffeine intake has been linked to sleep disturbances – no surprise there – obesity and a wide variety of other health problems.
In fact, caffeine intoxication is a recognized clinical syndrome, one that is characterized by nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, upset stomach, rapid heartbeat, and in rare cases death.
What’s particularly worrying is that energy drinks is a rapidly growing market in the U.S. and the ads promoting it are targeting mostly teens and young adults, glorifying their performance-enhancing and stimulant qualities.
There is no word of warning. No words of caution. We’re in danger of creating another energy crisis. This one won’t boost the price of oil, but it could have serious health consequences for a lot of unsuspecting people.