Category Archives: Guarana

New research recognizes the danger energy drinks may pose to public health

energy_drink1FoodFacts.com knows there are so many things for parents to worry about when it comes to their teenagers. While we’re not happy to have added to their list of concerns, we’ve been consistently reporting on research and news surrounding energy drinks. These drinks have been linked to thousands of emergency room visits and fatalities among adults and young people alike. Unfortunately, energy drinks appear to be most appealing to teenagers and they’re consuming them in unhealthy quantities all over the world. Today we’ve learned that these dangers are being recognized.

Increased consumption of energy drinks may pose danger to public health, especially among young people, warns a team of researchers from the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe in the open-access journal Frontiers in Public Health.

Energy drinks are non-alcoholic beverages that contain caffeine, vitamins, and other ingredients for example, taurine, ginseng, and guarana. They are typically marketed as boosting energy and increasing physical and mental performance.

João Breda, from the WHO Regional Office for Europe, and colleagues reviewed the literature on the health risks, consequences and policies related to energy drink consumption.

“From a review of the literature, it would appear that concerns in the scientific community and among the public regarding the potential adverse health effects of the increased consumption of energy drinks are broadly valid,” write the authors.

Part of the risks of energy drinks are due to their high levels of caffeine. Energy drinks can be drunk quickly, unlike hot coffee, and as a result they are more likely to cause caffeine intoxication.

Studies included in the review suggest that caffeine intoxication can lead to heart palpitations, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, psychosis, and in rare cases, death. In the USA, Sweden, and Australia, several cases have been reported where people have died of heart failure or were hospitalized with seizures, from excess consumption of energy drinks.

Research has shown that adolescents who often take energy drinks are also more likely to engage in risky behaviours such as sensation seeking, substance abuse, and binge drinking.

Over 70% of young adults (aged 18 to 29 years) who drink energy drinks mix them with alcohol, according to an EFSA study. Numerous studies have shown that this practice is more risky than drinking alcohol only, possibly because these drinks make it harder for people to notice when they are getting drunk.

According to the National Poison Data System in the United States, between 2010 and 2011, 4854 calls to poison information centers were made about energy drinks. Almost 40% involved alcohol mixed with energy drinks. A similar study in Australia demonstrated a growth in the number of calls about energy drinks.

Energy drinks can be sold in all EU countries, but some countries have introduced regulations, including setting rules for sales to children. Hungary introduced a public health tax that includes energy drinks in 2012. In Sweden, sales of some types of energy drinks are restricted to pharmacies and sales to children are banned.

“As energy drink sales are rarely regulated by age, unlike alcohol and tobacco, and there is a proven potential negative effect on children, there is the potential for a significant public health problem in the future,” the authors conclude.

They make the following suggestions to minimize the potential for harm from energy drinks:

- Establishing an upper limit for the amount of caffeine allowed in a single serving of any drink in line with available scientific evidence;
- Regulations to enforce restriction of labeling and sales of energy drinks to children and adolescents;
- Enforcing standards for responsible marketing to young people by the energy drink industry;
- Training health care practitioners to be aware of the risks and symptoms of energy drinks consumption;
- Patients with a history of diet problems and substance abuse, both alone and combined with alcohol, should be screened for the heavy consumption of energy drinks;
- Educating the public about the risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks consumption;
- Further research on the potential adverse effects of energy drinks, particularly on young people.

We’re grateful for many of the statements released from this report. First among them would have to be the acknowledgement that health concerns surrounding energy drinks are valid. Unfortunately, here in the U.S., there’s been little — if any — movement by the FDA to restrict and reclassify energy drinks from nutritional supplements to beverages, or to regulate their sale among young people. Every instance of a link between death and energy drinks is accompanied by a disclaimer that no cause and effect had been found. And the consistent marketing of energy drinks by manufacturers in manners that are attractive to teens has not changed. Even the packaging designs employed are obviously targeting a younger population. FoodFacts.com hopes that this European report sends a loud message across the globe and is thoroughly digested here in the states. These are significant acknowledgements that need to be taken seriously.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141014170727.htm

New study links energy drinks to caffeine syndrome and heart problems

Heart attackAfter years of hearing about the possible relationship between energy drinks and emergency room visits and even deaths, FoodFacts.com is excited to share this important information. Finally there’s been a study conducted that takes a good look at the effects of energy drinks.

Energy drinks can cause heart problems according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2014 by Professor Milou-Daniel Drici from France.

During the two year study period, 257 cases of adverse effects related to energy drinks were reported, of which 212 provided sufficient information for food and drug safety evaluation. They found that 95 of the reported adverse events had cardiovascular symptoms, 74 psychiatric, and 57 neurological, sometimes overlapping. Cardiac arrests and sudden or unexplained deaths occurred at least in 8 cases, while 46 people had heart rhythm disorders, 13 had angina and 3 had hypertension.

Caffeine syndrome was the most common problem, occurring in 60 people. It is characterized by a fast heart rate (called tachycardia), tremor, anxiety and headache. The study analyzed adverse events reported between 1 January 2009 and 30 November 2012. Some 15 specialists including cardiologists, psychiatrists, neurologists and physiologists contributed to the investigation and results were compared to published data in the scientific literature.

The researchers found that consumption of the 103 energy drinks in France increased by 30% between 2009 and 2011 up to over 30 million liters. The leading brand made up 40% of energy drinks consumed. Two-thirds of drinks were consumed away from home.

Professor Drici said, “So-called ‘energy drinks’ are popular in dance clubs and during physical exercise, with people sometimes consuming a number of drinks one after the other. This situation can lead to a number of adverse conditions including angina, cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even sudden death.”

Around 96% of these drinks contain caffeine, with a typical 0.25 litre can holding 2 espressos worth of caffeine. Caffeine is one of the most potent agonists of the ryanodine receptors and leads to a massive release of calcium within cardiac cells. This can cause arrhythmias, but also has effects on the heart’s abilities to contract and to use oxygen. In addition, 52% of drinks contain taurine, 33% have glucuronolactone and two-thirds contain vitamins.

“In 2008 energy drinks were granted marketing authorization in France. In 2009 this was accompanied by a national nutritional surveillance scheme which required national health agencies and regional centers to send information on spontaneously reported adverse events to the A.N.S.E.S, the French agency for food safety.”

Rare but severe adverse events were also associated with these drinks, such as sudden or unexplained death, arrhythmia and heart attack (myocardial infarction). Their literature search confirmed that these conditions can be related to consumption of energy drinks.

Drici added,”Patients with cardiac conditions including catecholaminergic arrhythmias, long QT syndrome and angina should be aware of the potential danger of a large intake of caffeine, which is a stimulant that can exacerbate their condition with possibly fatal consequences.

“The general public need to know that so-called ‘energy drinks’ have absolutely no place during or after physical exercise, as compared with other drinks designed for that purpose. When used in long alcoholic cocktails, the caffeine in ‘energy drinks’ enables young people in dance clubs or elsewhere to overcome the unwanted effects of alcohol, leading to an even greater intake of caffeine.

“Patients rarely mention consumption of energy drinks to their doctors unless they are asked. Doctors should warn patients with cardiac conditions about the potential dangers of these drinks and ask young people in particular whether they consume such drinks on a regular basis or through binge drinking.”

Energy drinks are too popular. They’re too popular among teens, young adults and adults. And regardless of whether or not any direct links have been found between the enormous increase of emergency room visits and deaths that have involved energy drink consumption, these drinks are dangerous. This new research certainly reflects that and is just the beginning of what we’re certain will be many new revelations regarding the importance of avoiding energy drinks.

http://www.science20.com/news_articles/caffeine_syndrome_energy_drinks_linked_to_heart_problems-143804

Is there a connection between energy drink consumption and drug and alcohol use for teens?

197738_10150134064788407_1313366_n copy.jpgThere have been very disturbing reports about energy drink consumption for more than a few years now. FoodFacts.com has blogged about the concerns we should all have regarding the ingredients and the marketing of these controversial products. Hospitalizations and deaths have been linked to these beverages, and marketing efforts from several brands have targeted teens.

With the appeal of increased energy, better athletic performance and better focus, it’s easy to see why energy drinks have become incredibly popular for teenagers. Sadly, because the drinks are sold everywhere and aren’t regulated, many parents aren’t aware that they may not be as harmless as they appear. And we’re all aware that no brand has actually been implicated in any hospitalization or death. There have been lawsuits and news about the possible connection (not specific cause) of a particular energy drink with a tragic situation.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine, it was shown that consuming energy drinks was strongly and positively associated with alcohol, cigarette, and illicit drug use in the preceding 30 days by adolescents. The observed associations between energy drinks and substance use were significantly stronger than those between regular or diet soft drinks and substance use.

The report suggests that personality traits that make a young person more likely to consume an energy drink—such as being a risk taker—may increase the chances that he or she will try addictive substances.

Researcher Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath and colleagues at the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan studied U.S. secondary school students in 2010 and 2011, looking at energy and soft-drink consumption and its associations with substance abuse. As part of the Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, surveys were administered to students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades.

Approximately 30 percent of student respondents reported consuming energy drinks or shots. The study also found that 8th graders reported a significantly higher frequency of consuming energy drinks than 10th or 12th grade students, and that the consumption frequency was significantly higher for adolescent boys than for adolescent girls. Consumption of both soda and energy drinks was highest among adolescents in families with low average parental education as well as in single-parent households.

Cautioning that this study does not establish causation between the behaviors, the researchers recommend education for parents and prevention efforts among young people. This includes information on the masking effects that the caffeine in energy drinks can have on alcohol- and other substance-related impairments, and recognition that some groups may be particularly likely to consume energy drinks and to be substance users.

Energy drinks generally contain extra-large doses of caffeine and/or other legal stimulants. An energy drink may contain between 75 milligrams to more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per serving—compared with the 34 milligrams in a Coke. Some energy drinks list additives such as guarana, which can contain about four times the amount of caffeine that coffee beans have; however, many consumers don’t recognize this ingredient as a source of caffeine.

Commenting on the study’s findings, Janet P. Engle, PharmD, FAPhA, head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Illinois at Chicago (who was not involved in the study), advised, “Everyone wants the magic bullet for getting energized and staying awake. However, energy drinks are not the best answer. There is a lack of research and regulation associated with energy drinks, and they may cause dangerous health consequences in users.”

While there are no official recommendations for caffeine intake for adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that adolescents should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. The idea that different energy drink products contain different amounts of caffeine and that various ingredients in those energy drinks may have stimulant effects themselves, we can easily see how teens consuming these drinks are ingesting far too much of the substance. That’s scary.

So while we wait for the FDA to investigate the drinks further and consider regulations, it’s important for adults to take note of the new research regarding alcohol and drug use as it may relate to energy drink consumption. It’s a good idea to be add energy drinks — and caffeine consumption — to the list of things we need to be vigilant about regarding our teenagers.

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/children-who-drink-energy-drinks-higher-risk-drug-use-020714

The great debate : Caffeine … Energy drinks. What’s safe?

FoodFacts.com has posted often on our blog about the potential dangers of energy drinks. The information is certainly out there. Between 2007 and 2011, emergency room visits attributed to the consumption of energy drinks doubled from 10,000 to 20,000 in just four years. And most of those visits involved teenagers and young adults. But it isn’t just energy drinks that contain questionable amounts of caffeine. It was pretty recently that a major manufacturer halted the development of caffeinated chewing gum. And let’s not forget about caffeine pills that aren’t marketed to kids.

Christian Brenner was trending on the internet today. He’s an adult who claims he absolutely had caffeine poisoning. He swallowed five Magnum 357 caffeine pills and then drove down an Ohio freeway. Just minutes later he said he started to vibrate – and so did the cars in his rear view mirror. He was smart and pulled over to walk around and try to calm things down.

We hear so many conflicting reports on caffeine. So what’s the deal? Is caffeine safe? How much is too much? Should we be avoiding it completely?

Experts say that, in fact, you can overdose on caffeine … especially if you aren’t paying attention to how much you’re consuming.

“Safe doses of caffeine are usually quoted at around 200 to 300 milligrams, or two to four cups of coffee per day,” says Dr. David Seres, associate professor of clinical medicine at Columbia University.

We’re sure that we’ve all seen people consume more coffee than that in a single day. Especially these days, when a typical 8 ounce cup is considered small, it’s much easier than it used to be to ingest more caffeine than what’s quoted as safe.

But what about the studies that have linked caffeine to actual health benefits? Some research has associated caffeine with protection from Parkinson’s disease; others have noted that it may reduce risk for some types of cancer.

We can take advantage of those potential benefits, while keeping our consumption to the moderate levels advised by experts. Christian Brenner may have been unaware that those five caffeine pills he took contained 200 mg of caffeine each. That’s 1,000 mg. at one time. And that is just too much.

Energy drinks also pose the question “How much is too much?” A regular size can of Red Bull will usually contain about 80 mg. of caffeine. But there are 16 ounce cans of some brands out there. The larger can of Monster can contain up to 240 mg. That’s a bit less than a 16 ou. cup of coffee, which contains about 300 mg. There’s really a big difference here though. It would be unusual for a coffee drinker to down back to back 16 ounce coffees, while it’s become fairly common (especially for younger people) to consume two or three larger-sized energy drinks before a workout or a practice or a game thinking that the drinks are going to help their performance.

Barbara Crouch, executive director at the Utah Poison Control Center, comments, “When you pound down more than one energy drink verses sipping a cup of coffee, you’re not metabolizing it the same way.” She notes that adding factors like size, age, sex, drug interactions, hydration levels and the amount of food in the stomach can mean different outcomes for different people when on a caffeine binge.

“Yes, there is absolutely such a thing as caffeine poisoning, and the dose essentially makes the poison,” she says.

But Crouch has a bigger bone to pick with the makers of energy drinks: She says that many of them aren’t being fully forthcoming about ingredients. “Natural” additives — such as guarana, taurine and so-called “Siberian ginseng” — haven’t been fully tested. These additives may contain additional caffeine and some of the herbs can have stimulatory effects. They’ve never been tested for safety of interactions with prescription drugs and other substances.

But James Coughlin, a food, nutritional, chemical and toxicology safety expert in Los Angeles who consults for the American Beverage Association (the industry group that represents energy drink companies), disputes that.

“The caffeine contained in the guarana of an energy drink is only around one milligram, versus the 80 milligrams of synthetic caffeine added by a beverage company such as Red Bull,” he says. “The lethal dose of caffeine is 10 to 20 grams of pure powder caffeine, so if you were going to try and kill yourself with caffeine, you’d probably drown in the liquid first if you did it with coffee — and even more so with an energy drink.”

There is a very real debate occurring around energy drinks and the overall safety of caffeinated products. But regardless of that debate, the increase in energy drink-related ER visits is very real and can’t be ignored.

And while we’re all happy that the FDA is taking a new look at energy drinks, caffeinated foods and how and to whom these products are marketed, FoodFacts.com agrees with the concept that not everyone is always aware of how much caffeine they really may be consuming.

Barbara Crouch cautions that people should monitor caffeine intake from all sources. “So you have that cup of coffee, but lo and behold you decide to get an extra-dark bar of chocolate,” she says. “Or you drink a soda. Or maybe you do take an allergy pill or a dietary supplement.” Sometimes people miss the fine print on labels about stimulant properties in all these products. We should be paying attention to our consumption of caffeine the way we pay attention to our consumption of other ingredients in our food supply.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/03/health/upwave-caffeine-overdose/index.html?hpt=he_c1

Wrongful death suit brought against manufacturer of Red Bull

Last week, a New York family brought an $85 million lawsuit against the makers of Red Bull Energy Drink. The Brooklyn construction worker was 33 years old when he passed away after a basketball game in 2011. His family claims that his death was a direct result of consuming Red Bull prior to that game.

While Monster Beverage Company is facing at least two lawsuits claiming wrongful death as a result of consumption of the company’s energy drinks, this new case is believed to be the first of its kind filed against Red Bull. This only adds to the growing concerns regarding energy drinks and their health effects. Currently, the FDA is investigating the possible dangers of these beverages and exploring their classification as dietary supplements.

Energy drinks have been linked to health difficulties ranging from dizziness to hospitalization. Last year, the FDA released a list of “adverse events,” including death and illness, from June 2005 to late 2012 in which consumption of energy drinks (specifically those marketed as dietary supplements) may have been involved. And according to The Daily News, between 2004 and 2012, the F.D.A. received 21 reports from doctors or hospitals in which Red Bull may have been associated with a variety of health issues.

Cory Terry, the deceased construction worker profiled in this wrongful death lawsuit, was known as a regular Red Bull consumer. The medics who arrived on the scene did seem to link his consumption of the product to his death in their report. Terry’s relatives are suggesting that drinking Red Bull had something to do with his passing.

Doctors noted the cause of Terry’s death as idiopathic dilated cariomyopathym or DCM which is a form of heart failure. It can be caused by a variety of conditions including viral infection, heredity and alcoholism. We don’t know if DCM has ever been linked to energy drink consumption.

What we do know is that many popular energy drinks pack a pretty powerful stimulant punch, using ingredients like guarana seed extract and taurine in addition to caffeine. Both guarana and taurine have stimulant effects. It is true that emergency room visits caused by energy drinks have more than doubled in the last five years. And because many of those drinks are classified as dietary supplements, manufacturers are not following the same regulations for caffeine content as beverage manufacturers. The FDA limits caffeine content to 70 mg per 12 ounce serving of a beverage. But that same regulation doesn’t exist for a dietary supplement. Some energy drinks can contain up to 500 mg of caffeine (the equivalent of 14 cans of caffeinated soda).

Energy drinks are especially harmful for children and teenagers. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated emphatically that energy drinks should never be consumed by children. The American Medical Association has endorsed a ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children.

Here at FoodFacts.com, we’ve got most energy drinks sitting squarely on our “avoid” list. We’re not happy with the idea that as long as manufacturers can claim that these products are dietary supplements, we won’t know how much caffeine they actually contain. And with the use of ingredients like taurine and guarana seed, the stimulant effect of any energy drink may well be more than the average consumer expects.

That being said, we’re also not sure if anyone can draw a straight line between the death of Cory Terry and Red Bull. If he drank Red Bull regularly it might be difficult to prove that when he consumed it that final time it was a direct cause of his heart failure.

We anxiously await decisions from the FDA that offer solutions to the problems concerning energy drink ingredients. In the meanwhile, let’s steer our kids clear of these products.

http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/29/2854701/red-bull-energy-lawsuit/

Another win for health-conscious consumers … Monster Energy changes its labeling

FoodFacts.com has done more than a few blog posts recently regarding the dangers inherent in energy drinks. Many of the energy drinks being marketed today are labeled as dietary supplements, not beverages. Because of this, the requirements for their labeling are quite a bit different than your average beverage.

Monster Beverage Corp. has stated that it will be changing the labeling on its products so that its energy drinks will no longer be considered dietary supplements. This decision changes the federal guidelines the drinks must follow. The products will now list “Nutrition Facts,” instead of “Supplement Facts” and will now disclose caffeine content for the beverages.

This change is a result of the allegations made against various energy drink manufacturers last year. There have been lawsuits filed against manufacturers regarding both deaths and hospitalizations allegedly related to the consumption of these products. Lawmakers have called on the Food and Drug Administration to look into the safety of the caffeine levels as well as other ingredients included in the drinks. And it also illustrates consumer confusion regarding the labeling of energy drinks because the manufacturers have the option of categorizing them as dietary supplements or regular beverages as they see fit.

Manufacturers have greater freedom with the ingredients that can be included in dietary supplements. A regular beverage can only include ingredients that are approved food additives – those that are “generally recognized as safe. The lawmakers that have asked the FDA for further exploration of the safety of energy drinks have cited issues regarding their ingredients. These products can currently contain ingredients that are not well known. As an example taurine is used in some of Monster’s products. This ingredient is not approved for use in food and beverages and is not included in the database of ingredients “generally recognized as safe.”

The FDA is currently working on new rules for the qualifications of a beverage vs. a dietary supplement. It’s important to note that the agency issued guidance in 2009 that specified that dietary supplements were being marketed in such a fashion that they could be perceived as regular beverages. By using terms like “drink,” “juice” or “beverage, consumers could easily become confused by the product.

While there’s a lot left to find out regarding the new labeling for Monster beverages, FoodFacts.com is happy to see that the voices of consumers (some of them heard through lawsuits against various manufacturers) are being responded to and acknowledged. These beverages have been prove to be risky choices for some in the population who already have existing health problems. Perhaps as Monster makes changes, others will follow suit. We’ll keep an eye out for continuing information on this emerging story.

Meanwhile you can read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/13/monster-label-change-beverage-now-drink_n_2681366.html?utm_hp_ref=business

A serious problem with labeling brought to light by a very sad story

When FoodFacts.com learns of a story like this we feel compelled to bring it in front of our community. We are committed to educating our audience about what is actually in the food products we consume every day and alert everyone we can about possible dangers in our food supply. Sometimes, though, that mission becomes disturbing and sad.

Earlier this month, Wendy Crossland filed suit against Monster Beverage, the company that produces Monster Energy Drinks. Her 14 year old daughter died last year from cardiac arrest after she had consumed two 24 –ounce cans of the drink over a 24-hour period. Her lawsuit states that Monster Energy did not warn about the risks of consuming its drinks. According to the results of her daughter’s autopsy, the teenager passed due to “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that exacerbated an underlying heart problem.

First let’s touch on how much caffeine is in an average-sized cup of coffee. It’s about 100 milligrams. In one 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, there are 240 milligrams. An average grown, healthy adult who has no adverse reactions to caffeine can safely consume between 200 and 300 milligrams per day. The teenage girl who passed away consumed 480 milligrams in a 24-hour period … well over the amount that’s safe for grown human beings. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends that adolescents consume no more than 100 milligrams per day.

While FoodFacts.com understands that the teenager willingly consumed the beverages and the company did not force her to purchase them, we feel that it is important to point out that she had no way of knowing how much caffeine she was consuming. While the FDA does regulate the amount of caffeine in soft drinks and has set the limit in 12 ounces of soda at about 71 milligrams, energy drinks are not held to these same standards. Since energy drink manufacturers choose to classify their products as dietary supplements, they are not required to adhere to the same regulations or to label the actual amount of caffeine their beverages contain.

In addition to that very important piece of information, energy drinks most often contain guarana seeds. This botanical product breaks down to caffeine – in a potent way. Three to five grams of guarana seed breaks down to 250 milligrams of caffeine. This is in ADDITION to the actual caffeine the manufacturers are adding to the drinks.

Last spring, the FDA was asked to investigate the caffeine levels and the safety of other ingredients in energy drinks. Noting the products’ specific appeal to young people, it was felt that manufacturers need to prove the their safety.

It appears that Wendy Crossland’s 14-year-old daughter is one of five people who may have died in the last three years consuming energy drinks. In addition, according to a 2009 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, visits to the emergency-room directly related to the consumption of energy drinks rose from 1128 in 2005 to over 13,000 in 2009.

While the FDA is investigating the five deaths reported that seem to be related to energy drink consumption, FoodFacts.com can’t help but wonder why it’s allowable for these beverage manufacturers to avoid rules that have been set in place by the FDA for other caffeinated drink producers. Our government seems to be very proficient at regulating many other industries and products. We can’t help wonder why energy drinks seem to escape this much-needed step.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/business/fda-receives-death-reports-citing-monster-energy-a-high-caffeine-drink.html?_r=1&
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-monster-fda-20121023,0,181549.story
http://neurobonkers.com/2012/06/19/where-does-your-energy-drink-fall-on-the-caffeine-spectrum-and-does-that-taurine-actually-do-anything/