Energy drinks may lead to dangerous behaviors, says study

By Cielestia Calbay

Before you reach for that Red Bull next time you’re up late
cramming, think twice. Energy drinks cause more harm than good, and
a recent study finds that frequent consumption of them may lead to
risky behaviors. Two studies led by Kathleen Miller, a scientist at
the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions,
investigated the connection between energy drinks and public health
concerns like substance abuse and dangerous behaviors. The study
surveyed 795 Western New York male and female undergraduate
students. It found that those who consumed energy drinks six or
more times a month were approximately three times as likely than
less-frequent energy drink consumers or non-consumers to have
smoked cigarettes, abused prescription drugs and been in a serious
physical fight. The study reported the students drinking alcohol,
having alcohol-related problems and using marijuana twice as often
as non-consumers. They were also more likely to engage in other
forms of risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex, not using a
seatbelt, participating in an extreme sport and doing something
dangerous on a dare. Consumption of prescription stimuli such as
Ritalin also posed as a risk. “I don’t think it’s bad if you have
an energy drink every now and then; it’s not like it’s a drug,”
said Michelle Kim, a fourth-year sociology student. Energy drinks
typically contain three times the caffeine of a soft drink, and in
some cases, up to 10 times as much. “Energy drinks can be
dangerous, simply because they are not required to state caffeine
content,” said Carla Jackson, an educator at Student Health
Services. “Some energy drinks can contain 500 milligrams of
caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola.”
According to the study, energy drinks are infused with potential
interactions such as taurine and other amino acids, massive doses
of vitamins and plant and herbal extracts. Among the students
surveyed, 39 percent reported consuming at least one energy drink
in the past month. There was significantly higher consumption by
men – 46 percent – than by women – 31 percent.

The study also found that two-thirds of the students had used
energy drinks as mixers with alcoholic beverages. “It is widely,
but incorrectly, believed that the caffeine in energy drinks
counteracts the effects of alcohol, so students will have the
energy to party all night without getting as drunk,” said Miller in
the study. She adds that though the combination may reduce
perceptions of intoxication, it doesn’t reduce alcohol-induced
impairments of reaction time or judgment. “I try not to drink
energy drinks as much because I know how harmful they can be,” said
Carlos Ayala, a third-year mechanical engineering student. “There
are plenty of other drinks out there that can give you just as much
[of a] boost without the risks.” According to Jackson, frequent
consumption of energy drinks puts students at a high risk of
caffeine intoxication. “[It] can cause cardiovascular symptoms and
even require a trip to the emergency room,” said Jackson. The
principal target for energy drinks is young adults ages 18 to 25.
The global market for these drinks currently exceeds $3 billion per
year, with new products introduced annually.

Energy drinks may lead to dangerous behaviors, says study

Brandon Tan/Poly Post

Energy drinks may lead to dangerous behaviors, says study

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