Tag Archives: energy drinks

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.


FDA petitioned to order warnings on energy drink labels

Energy DrinksJust last week we posted about the untimely death of a 16 year old girl that has been linked to energy drinks. FoodFacts.com consistently posts about reports regarding the dangers of these drinks that remain unregulated and far too popular among the teenage population. The problems aren’t small and the needs are big. There’s far too little education regarding energy drinks among the population at large. Too much caffeine, too many other ingredients with stimulant properties and too much marketing to teens … we have a problem and regulation seems to be slow in coming.

A consumer advocacy group on Wednesday asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to add a safety warning on energy drinks because the caffeine-charged beverages have been linked to 17 deaths since October 2012.

No study has proven that energy drinks directly caused these deaths, but 34 people died in the United States in the last decade after drinking 5-Hour Energy, Monster or Rockstar beverages, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

More than 50 people also were hospitalized for high blood pressure, convulsions and heart attacks after consuming energy drinks. The drinks, which are especially popular with teens, typically contain guarana, taurine and caffeine.

“I don’t think anybody knows what (these chemicals in energy drinks) do,” said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of CSPI, which calculated the numbers using data it obtained from the FDA. “It’s not clear what their risks are.”

The FDA said it has been studying the drinks for several years and is evaluating the deaths. “This does not necessarily mean that the energy drink caused the death,” an FDA spokesperson said. “Frequently there are other complicating factors, such as existing disease or medications the person may have been taking.”

Spokespeople for Monster Beverage Corp, Rockstar Energy Drink and 5-Hour Energy were not immediately available for comment.

“Energy drinks are safe. They meet all the standards required by the federal regulators,” said Christopher Gindlesperger, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association.

CSPI also asked the FDA to lower the legally allotted amount of caffeine in energy drinks to 71 milligrams per 12 ounces — the amount permissible in colas.

In 2005, the group urged the FDA to introduce labels to sugar-rich drinks warning consumers of obesity. Two years prior, CSPI succeeded in a 10-year campaign to list data on trans fats on all Nutrition Facts labels.

If you’ve ever walked into a convenience store between the hours of 2:30 and 3:30 in the afternoon, you’ve undoubtedly encountered a flood of teens. That’s certainly not a bad thing. Teens are hungry after school and they have a new freedom they didn’t have before they were in high school. Unfortunately, if you’ve seen that flood of teenagers in the store, you’ve probably also noticed how many cans of energy drinks are being purchased. The concerns are serious and very real. We can’t repeat it enough. Talk to your teenagers. Be careful. Keep your kids safe.


Energy drinks can cause increases in blood pressure and heart disturbances

In the recent past, FoodFacts.com has devoted blog posts to the growing concerns surrounding energy drinks and how they affect our health. There have been concerning reports linking energy drink consumption to deaths and hospitalizations. And those reports have been on the rise. We’ve been especially concerned about how they are marketed and how attractive they seem to teenagers and children.

A new study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions shows that energy drinks can drastically increase blood pressure and disturb the heart’s natural rhythm. The researchers out of the University of the Pacific in Stockton the David Grant Medical Center, Travis Air Force Base in California used previous data published in several different studies. They were able to illustrate the effects energy drink consumption have on the cardiovascular system.

Energy drinks contain two ingredients that affect both blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Those ingredients are caffeine and taurine. The researchers measured something called the QT interval, which is the amount of time in the heart’s electrical cycle that reveals the heart’s rhythm. Scientists measured the QT interval of 93 people after they had consumed one to three cans of energy drinks. For each can of energy drink consumed, the participants QT interval increased by 10 milliseconds. A prolonged QT interval can be associated with life-threatening arrhythmias.

It was noted that doctors are concerned when a patient experiences an addition 30 milliseconds in their QT interval. The association between energy drinks and a prolonged QT interval —especially considering the reports of cardiac death after their consumption certainly calls for further research and investigation.

The participants blood pressure reading also increased by an average of 3.5 points. This, along with the prolonged QT interval, is cause for caution before energy drink consumption. It’s important to note that children are at a higher risk for these problems than adults.

FoodFacts.com will continue to report research regarding energy drinks. Meanwhile, please approach energy drinks with caution for yourselves and your families. Help teenagers and children to be aware of the possible dangers linked to these beverages.


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

Teenagers and Caffeine Drinks


Foodfacts.com aims to educate consumers on different ingredients, products, and health-related conditions. As previously mentioned in our blogs, food companies have been using more creative marketing strategies to drive teenagers and younger children to purchase their products. A major trend has been incorporating caffeine and other stimulants into energy drinks to give kids that extra “boost” for workouts, sports, or just to stay up later. Below is a recent article from the New York Times explaining a research study addressing this trend among teens and young adults.

Teenagers Prefer Drinks With Caffeine

Super-caffeinated energy drinks with names like Red Bull and Monster are increasingly popular among teenagers. But is it savvy marketing or the caffeine that keeps teenagers coming back for more?

New research from the University at Buffalo suggests that adding caffeine to a beverage increases its appeal among young people — even when they don’t know the drink contains caffeine.
To study the effect of caffeine on taste preference, the researchers first set out to create new drink flavors that weren’t familiar to their test subjects. Using a combination of Kool-Aid and flavored carbonated water, the researchers concocted seven new drink flavors, including vanilla-orange and lime-pomegranate. Then they asked 100 young people, ages 12 to 17, to rank their favorites.

The scientists then picked each child’s fourth-ranked drink. Half the students were given the drink with caffeine added, while the other half, acting as a placebo group, were given the version of the drink without caffeine.

Over the next four days, the students came back to the lab to taste the drink and rank their preference for it on a scale of 0 to 100. Notably, among the placebo drinkers, there was no change in the students’ flavor ratings over the four-day tasting period. But among those students who were unknowingly drinking a caffeinated version of the drink, the flavor ratings improved each day, rising by 20 to 25 percent over the four days.

“Every day, the association with that flavor and the feeling it gave them increased their liking just a little bit,’’ said Jennifer Temple, an author of the study and assistant professor in the department of exercise and nutrition science. Dr. Temple and colleagues are presenting the study on Friday at the annual meeting of the Society for Study of Ingestive Behavior in Clearwater, Fla.

Dr. Temple said the study suggests that the presence of caffeine in a beverage influences a child’s taste preferences. That said, the study data weren’t conclusive. On the sixth day of testing, the students were given all seven drinks again and asked to rate them. Even though they had tasted their fourth-favorite flavor repeatedly over the past four days, it remained in fourth place.

In conducting the research, the researchers told the students they were part of a study testing a variety of drink additives, including flavors, artificial sweeteners, carbonation and caffeine. Follow-up testing at the study’s end showed that the students were no more likely to guess the beverage had caffeine in it than any of the other additives, showing that neither group was aware if they were drinking a placebo beverage or one with an additive.

Dr. Temple said flavor and packaging likely influence a child’s drink choice. But once they have made a choice, over time children appear to develop a stronger preference for drinks with caffeine.

“The pairing between the flavors and the way caffeine makes them feel reinforces their propensity for drinking these drinks,’’ she said. “The caffeine is what makes these drinks so reinforcing to children and so liked.’’

(Tony Cenicola, The New York Times)

Ban on Red Bull Energy Drink

Red Bull

Red Bull

It looks like some corporate crisis public relations is needed right now for the wildly popular Red Bull energy drink.

According to news reports, including the Associated Press, six German states have told retailers to stop selling Red Bull Cola energy drinks after a test found a trace amount of cocaine.

The bans started Friday after a sample test conducted by authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia state found 0.4 micrograms per liter in the drink.

Five other states also banned it from shops amid concerns over possible narcotics law violations.

Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said Monday that the cocaine level was too low to pose a health risk. It planned to produce a more detailed report Wednesday.

Red Bull said its cola is “harmless and marketable in both the U.S. and Europe.” It said similar coca leaf extracts are used worldwide as flavoring, and a test it commissioned itself found no cocaine traces.