Massive health risk from energy drinks

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Energy drinks are particularly dangerous in connection with alcohol

If you consume more than half a liter of energy drink a day, you risk health problems. This was the result of a study by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). Accordingly, excessive consumption of energy drinks can lead to cramps, irregular heartbeat and kidney failure. Mostly, the "stimulators" are drunk in order to stay awake and perform better for longer.

Energy drinks are particularly dangerous in connection with alcohol, sleep deprivation and physical exertion In the BfR study "Event-related survey of high consumers of energy drinks", drinking behavior regarding energy drinks in discotheques, at music festivals, at sporting events and at LAN parties examined. For the first time, risk-increasing factors such as alcohol, sleep deprivation and physical exertion were also taken into account in the study. The experts came to frightening results. Already more than half a liter of energy drink a day can be risky. "In individual cases, up to five liters are drunk within 24 hours," reports Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the BfR. "Unwanted health effects of energy drinks are particularly possible if you drink a lot of it, mix it with alcohol, sleep little or exercise." This can result in cardiac arrhythmias, kidney failure and cramps. According to the BfR, people who are sensitive to caffeine are particularly at risk.

LAN-Parys drink up to five liters of energy drink within 24 hours. According to the study, people who drink more than half a liter of energy drink within 24 hours are considered frequent drinkers. BfR asked 508 of these “extreme consumers” about their energy drink consumption in discotheques, at LAN parties, as well as sports and music events. On average, the respondents drink about a liter mixed with alcohol when dancing in clubs. According to the respondents, the highest is the energy drink consumption at LAN parties, where the participants stay up to 48 hours. Up to five liters in combination with alcohol are partially consumed there within 24 hours. Respondents bring it up to four liters of energy drink mixed with alcohol at music festivals and discos. Even at sporting events, average consumption was over a liter.

As reported by the BfR, the combination of energy drinks and vodka in particular is widespread among the respondents. However, very few consider the health risk. Above all, taste, increased performance and alertness are important to consumers. According to the study, manufacturers' instructions on the packaging are hardly observed. According to the BfR, men between the ages of 20 and 25 are among the most frequent drinkers of energy drinks on the occasions mentioned.

Stimulating substances in energy drinks are harmful to health
In addition to caffeine, the “stimulation drinks” contain other stimulating substances such as taurine, inositol and glucuronolactone in high concentrations. Caffeine in particular can have a negative impact on the cardiovascular system. Children, pregnant women and people with cardiovascular diseases should generally not consume any energy drinks. The stimulant effects of the drinks can cause a racing heart, cramps and even a stroke. This was already pointed out by researchers in the "Pediatrics" journal in 2012. Accordingly, some products contain four to five times more caffeine than Coca-Cola.

Caution should also be exercised when driving. The energy drinks can pretend to be fitness, which the consumer does not have at all, and thus hide the fact that they are unsuitable for driving.

A few years ago, the BfR advocated information on the packaging of energy drinks, in particular to warn certain groups of people such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and people with cardiovascular disease of health risks and to warn them of their consumption. Corresponding notices have now been enforced at EU level. The BfR also recommends labeling that indicates the harmful effects of drinks in connection with alcohol and physical activity. (ag)

Image: Andi-h /

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