Can Energy Drinks Kill You? Sudden Cardiac Deaths In Young People Linked To Energy Drink Consumption

Energy Drink

A new research study suggests that consuming energy drinks may be more harmful than previously thought. The study found that over consumption of energy drinks can cause sudden cardiac deaths in young people who are otherwise healthy.

The Consumer Affairs reports that the main concern regarding energy drinks is overconsumption. A healthy adolescent can safely consume one energy drink per day that is equal to 250 ml. This would be equal to one 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull per day. Despite the fact that 250 ml is considered the “safe” consumption level, energy drinks come in sizes much larger than the small 8.4 ounce can. In fact, most convenience stores carry energy drink products in cans that reach 16 ounces, twice the recommended daily consumption amount for adolescents.

The study was published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology and points out that doctors need to be on the front line of the energy drink epidemic. Doctors should be educated on safe energy drink consumption guidelines and express the serious cardiac risks of consuming too much of the beverage to their young patients. The education should be given to the majority of teens, as the report points out that roughly 31 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 19 consume energy drinks on a regular basis. The report also indicates that of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in the United States in 2007, 46% of them occurred in people under the age of 19. Therefore, researchers feel that guidelines must be set for safe caffeine consumption in adolescents and youth.

The team came up with the following results when looking at energy drink consumption in youth.

  • One can (250 mL) of an energy drink per day is safe for most healthy adolescents.
  • Energy drink consumption before or during sports practice should be avoided.
  • Adolescents with clinically relevant underlying medical conditions should consult cardiologists before drinking energy drinks.
  • Excessive energy drink consumption together with alcohol or other drugs, or both, may lead to adverse effects, including death.
  • Parents should be taught potential adverse effects related to energy drink consumption.
  • Provide continual advice against over consumption/abuse of energy drinks.

The research team notes that as energy drink consumption continues to grow among youth, it is important for both parents and doctors to communicate the risks to young people. From knowing the symptoms of energy drink overconsumption to discussing the risks associated with mixing energy drinks with alcohol, adolescents must be made aware of the health issues and risks associated with energy drink consumption.

[Image Credit: Flickr/ Creative Commons/ JoelKlal]