March 18th, 2008
by Ellen Kratka · Filed Under: Caring for your Body
Thanks to Family Well-Being for the following article:
The energy drinks that seem to fill the coolers of every convenience store and checkout line carry more risks than what we’ve been led to believe. Experts have been cautioning teens and other adults for years against stoking up on multiple cans of the stuff before sporting events, for instance, because it can actually increase the risk of dehydration and contribute to an elevated heart rate even before exercise begins.
Now new studies suggest that the drinks’ caffeine boost can do even more damage to people with high blood pressure — as well as those who mix buzz juice with booze.
Johns Hopkins professor of behavioral biology Roland Griffiths, PhD, agrees. Griffiths has been studying the effect of caffeine on the body for many years, and he says the stimulant is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world.
Griffiths says energy drink consumers are being misled by advertising for the products.
“The ads give people the idea that they are getting a cocktail of various ingredients fine-tuned to synergistically enhance energy,” he says. “As far as I can tell, this is bogus. The effects of these drinks are largely due to the presence of added caffeine, and the magnitude of the effect is completely caffeine-dose dependent.”
The first study was presented Tuesday before the American Heart Association’s annual scientific meeting in Orlando, Fla.
In fact, while the drinks are often marketed around images of extreme-sports competitions, marathons or study days, researchers are finding that many high-school and college students are using the energy drinks to keep them awake for longer alcoholic binges.
Another study shows that college students who drink booze mixed with energy drinks are twice as likely to be hurt or injured than those who did their drinking without the aid of the boosters.
This was among the findings of Wake Forest University researchers that were presented to the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Washington this week.
The Wake Forest team also found that those students who mix are twice as likely to require medical attention or to ride with an intoxicated driver than students who just drank alcohol.
Additionally, those who mixed energy and alcoholic drinks were more than twice as likely to take advantage of someone else sexually, and almost twice as likely to be taken advantage of, according to the study. It was based on a Web survey of nearly 4,300 college students from 10 universities.
“We knew, from speaking with students and researching blogs and Web sites, that college students mix these drinks and alcohol in order to drink more and to drink longer,” said Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien, an associate professor of emergency medicine who led the study.
“But we were surprised that the risk of serious and potentially deadly consequences is so much higher for those who mixed energy drinks with alcohol, even when we adjusted for the amount of alcohol.”
Just as the time-honored practice of pouring coffee into an inebriated partygoer produces a “wide-awake drunk,” O’Brien says younger party goers may not realize how impaired they are because of the stimulant effect.
“Only the symptoms of drunkenness are reduced, but not the drunkenness. They can’t tell if they’re drunk and they can’t tell if someone else is drunk. So they get hurt, or they hurt someone else.”
For more on this see: “Energy Drinks: What the new studies tell us” from Scripps. For more on the truth about what caffeine really can do to you (and your student/children), see: “Caffeine Fuels Most Energy Drinks” from WebMD.
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